Foto, Gruppenbild der Familie mit der Porzellansammlung
© Familie von Klemperer

Reconstruction of the Porcelain Collection of the Dresden Banker Gustav von Klemperer (1852–1926)

The eminent Dresden banker Gustav von Klemperer (Edler von Klemenau) and his wife Charlotte were the owners of what was, with over nine hundred objects, arguably the largest and most important collection of eighteenth-century Meissen porcelain in all Germany. Its fate is exemplary for that of so many Jewish-owned collections in the Nazi period and is closely associated with the institutional history of the Porcelain Collection of the Dresden State Art Collections.

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The research project

The greater part of the Gustav von Klemperer Collection that was seized in 1938 and later expropriated continues to be regarded as lost. One goal of the project sponsored by the German Lost Art Foundation was to establish the paths along which the porcelain objects came to be lost. Another was to investigate the persecution of the von Klemperer family and to conduct research into the histories of the Dresden villas in which they lived.

Project time frame: 11/ 2019 – 09/2021
Project head: Anette Loesch,
Senior Curator for European Porcelain, Dresden Porcelain Collection
Research associate: Kathrin Iselt,
art historian and provenance researcher

© Adrian Sauer

The von Klemperer family tree

Composed by Brian Sparg, great-grandson of Gustav and Charlotte von Klemperer

To the family tree

Foto, Gruppenbilder der Familie
© Familie von Klemperer
Von Klemperer family, 1920
Arranged by Brian Sparg

Golden Wedding 1925 - film (3:37 min)

In 1875, Charlotte Engelmann and Gustav von Klemperer were married in the home of the bride's parents in Olomouc. After many years of marriage, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1925, which was a social event in Dresden and was appropriately celebrated by the highly respected couple with countless guests in the villa of their son Victor.
The film footage was shot by Victor von Klemperer.

To the film

 

Medal commemorating the golden wedding anniversary of Gustav and Charlotte von Klemperer, 1925 Design: Ise Plehn, bronze, Ø 5.98 cm (Münzkabinett; Inv.-Nr. 1964/542)

Memories

Michaela Howse

looks back upon the life story of her grandmother Ida Charlotte Abel, née von Klemperer

Foto, Profil einer älteren Frau
© Lynne Howse, Südafrika

Victor (Francis) von Klemperer

about his grandfather Victor von Klemperer

Victor von Klemperer (1876-1943) with daughter Dorothea, 1938
© Familie von Klemperer

Essays

In the course of the project, four scholars – Anette Loesch, Kathrin Iselt, Sabine Rudolph and Andreas Graul – have conducted research into the fate of the von Klemperer family. In their essays, they present the turbulent history of the Gustav and Charlotte von Klemperer Collection, which is closely associated with the institutional history of the Dresden Porcelain Collection; the family’s magnificent Dresden villas; and the achievements of Gustav von Klemperer and his son Victor in the field of banking.

To the essays

© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Porzellansammlung
Gustav von Klemperer, painting by Jan Pieter Veth (1864-1925) from the catalogue Porzellansammlung Gustav von Klemperer, Dresden 1928

Central sources

Three sources were of central importance for the reconstruction of the Gustav von Klemperer Collection: the 1928 catalogue of the collection, the proofs made in preparation for illustrations in that catalogue, and a number of photographs taken by Fritz Fichtner, who was Director of the Dresden Porcelain Collection from 1933 to 1945.

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© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Porzellansammlung
Photo cover for a photograph by Fritz Fichtner, October 1939

Losses from the Collection

The reconstructed Gustav von Klemperer Collection consists of 929 items. Research conducted under the project resulted in a list of 614 porcelain objects lost: almost exactly two thirds of the Klemperer Collection.
For each individual piece, the path by which it was lost was established and documented in the Lost Art Database.

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Foto, hoher Raum, zugestellt mit Mobiliar und großen Holzkisten
© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Porzellansammlung
Storage boxes with porcelain in the Chinese Room at Rammenau Palace, 1939/1941

Restitutions and gifts

Display case with porcelains from the Gustav von Klemperer collection
© David Pinzer Fotografie
© Bonhams
A gift of Lynne Howse - 2011

Branded by fire

The figure of Hippomenes is severely damaged: the head and parts of the body and base are missing and the glaze is marked with black discolorations. The bombing of the night of 13/14 February 1945 left its mark on much more than just this figure, with the fire that raged in Dresden reaching unimaginably high temperatures. As a result, in many cases ash fused with the softened porcelain glaze, creating an enduring testimony to these traumatic events. The porcelain objects bearing the marks of the fire are eloquent historical documents in their own right.

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Foto, vier Fragmente der Figur des Hippomenes mit Rußspuren
© Adrian Sauer
Fragment of the figure of Hippomenes Modell Johann Friedrich Eberlein, Meissen, 1741-1747

Videos

ZDF Digitale Kunsthalle

Porzellansammlung Gustav von Klemperer (6:33 min)

Anette Loesch, Senior Curator for European Porcelain, Dresden Porcelain Collection; Gilbert Lupfer, Director, Department of Research and Scholarly Cooperation, SKD

Anette Loesch, Film Still
© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
ZDF Digitale Kunsthalle

Broken Plates (1:39 min)

Edmund de Waal, British artist, ceramist and author

Edmund de Waal, Film Still
© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Event | PREP 2019

Raub und Restitution der Sammlung Gustav von Klemperer (2:01:33 h)

Film of an evening event from the German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program for Museum Professionals (PREP), Dresden, 2019

© David Pinzer Fotografie

Stolpersteine remember the von Klemperer family

Victor and Sophie von Klemperer

Stolpersteine on Tiergartenstraße No. 66 (formerly No. 64) remember Victor and Sophie von Klemperer, laid on 2022-09-23

Stolpersteine for Victor und Sophie von Klemperer
© Anette Loesch, Dresden

Ralph Leopold and Lili von Klemperer

Stolpersteine on Wiener Straße No. 86 remember Ralph Leopold and Lili von Klemperer, laid on 2022-09-23

Stolpersteine for Ralph Leopold and Lili von Klemperer
© Anette Loesch, Dresden

Ein kollektiver Comic

2018 the Dresden State Art Collections in cooperation with the Körber-Stiftung and the German Lost Art Foundation organized a meeting of young people from Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Latvia and Spain to talk about Nazi persecution, provenance research and restitution. As part of this project, a comic was created that tells the story of the fate of the von Klemperer family as a duet.

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3D-Models

Meissen, 1731

Monkey (tufted ear marmoset)

© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 3D-Modell: ZDF Digital

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Meissen, around 1743

Teapot

© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 3D-Modell: ZDF Digital

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Meissen, around 1750

Female Malabar

© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 3D-Modell: ZDF Digital

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When you play our 3D model, information about your use of Sketchfab is transmitted to the operator in the USA and may be saved.

Acknowledgements

We owe a special debt of thanks to the von Klemperer family, in particular Lynne und Michaela Howse, Victor Francis von Klemperer, Ursula Elisabeth Ryffel, Brian Ralph Sparg, Marie Logan, Jean Makris, William John von Klemperer, James Alfred von Klemperer and Nils Ralph von Klemperer.

For their generous support we offer warmest thanks to our colleagues from the Dresden State Art Collections, in particular Julia Weber, Director of the Porcelain Collection, and Gilbert Lupfer, Director of the Department of Research and Scholarly Cooperation of the Dresden State Art Collections. Further thanks go to our loyal colleagues Jenny Brückner, Karsta Kiss-Haußmann, Maria Obenaus, Karolin Randhahn und Vera Wobad.

For their helpful support and provision of important information we thank the staff of Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste, Magdeburg, Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden, Stadtarchiv Dresden, Archiv of Technische Universität Dresden and Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Sachsen, Dresden.

Felix von Boehm, art/beats, Berlin; Reinhild Böhnke, Leipzig; Christiane Botzet, Bundesarchiv Freiburg; Angela Buchwald, Technischen Universität Dresden, Universitätsarchiv, Dresden; Matilda Burn, Christie’s, London; Rainald Franz, MAK – Museum für angewandte Kunst, Sammlung Glas und Keramik, Wien; Ronny Geißler, Stolpersteine für Dresden e. V., Dresden; Tilo Grabach, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Sammlung Kunst und Kunsthandwerk 19. bis 21. Jahrhundert, Nürnberg; Andreas Graul, Leipzig; Susanne Grimaldi, Stolpersteine für Dresden e. V., Dresden; Katharina Hantschmann, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Meißener Porzellan-Sammlung Stiftung Ernst Schneider in Schloss Lustheim, München; Romy Hartmann, Sächsisches Staatsarchivs, Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden, Dresden; Michael Hemmler, Bundesarchiv Berlin; Claudia Kanowski, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin; Sophie Kidd, Wien; Elisabeth Kohlhaas, Stiftung Sächsische Gedenkstätten, Dokumentations- und Informationszentrum Torgau; Andrea Kollinger, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Bibliothek, Nürnberg; Detlef Krause, Historisches Archiv der Commerzbank; Manuela Krüger, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin; Thomas Kübler, Stadtarchiv Dresden, Dresden; Sebastian Kuhn, Bonhams, London; Matthias Lienert, Technischen Universität Dresden, Universitätsarchiv, Dresden; Carmen Lorenz, Bundesarchiv, Berlin; Peter May, Dresden; John Nicholson, Wien; Wolfgang Oleschinski, Stiftung Sächsische Gedenkstätten, Dokumentations- und Informationszentrum Torgau; Carlo Paulus, art/beats, Berlin; Petra Pechaček, Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Abteilung Sammlungen und Vermittlung, Bruchsal; Ragna Petrak, Sächsisches Staatsarchivs, Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden, Dresden; Silke Reuther, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Abteilung Provenienzrecherche, Hamburg; Margret Ribbert, Historisches Museum Basel, Abteilung Angewandte Kunst und Alltagskultur, Basel; Magda Ritter, Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Schlossverwaltung, Rastatt; Sabine Rudolph, Heimann Hallermann Rechtsanwälte Partnerschaft mbB, Dresden; Kerstin Schellbach, Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden (SLUB), Abteilung Handschriften, Alte Drucke und Landeskunde; Kirsten Vincenz, Technischen Universität Dresden, Kustodie, Dresden; Jutta Wiese, Technischen Universität Dresden, Universitätsarchiv, Dresden; Claudia Zachow, Porzellanikon – Staatliches Museum für Porzellan Hohenberg an der Eger/Selb, Selb

Förderer

Sponsors of the research project

Sponsors of the publication

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