Nazi-Looted Reinhold Begas Sculpture Returned to Jewish Family by the City of Berlin

The sculpture is on display at Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie.

A work by Reinhold Begas, titled Susanna (1869-72), recently recovered in December and identified as belonging to the Mosse Collection. ©Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Andres Kilger

The city of Berlin has returned a Nazi-looted sculpture to its rightful owners, the family of the former publishing mogul Rudolf Mosse.

Susanna, a marble sculpture by Reinhold Begas, dates back to 1869. For the time being, it will remain on loan to Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie, where it is already on display, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) announced on December 1.

According to The Art Newspaper, Mosse was one of the three richest men in Berlin at the turn of the century, who often hosted large dinner parties at his neo-Baroque home filled with paintings, sculptures, antique furnishings, and tapestries.

His collection included works by Max Liebermann, Carl Spitzweg, Wilhelm Leibl, Hans Makart, and Adolph von Menzel.

Mosse enjoyed immense success as a publisher of the Berliner Tagesblatt newspaper, “a staunch advocate of democracy even before the Weimar Republic.” Upon his death, his son-in-law, Hans Lachmann-Mosse, managed the newspaper until he and his wife, Felicia Lachmann-Mosse, were forced to flee from the Nazi regime, first to Switzerland and then the US.

The collection had been bequeathed to Ms. Lachmann-Mosse, but was lost after her emigration, as their possessions were seized and sold at auction in 1934, from which the family saw no proceeds.

In 2012, The Mosse Art Restitution Project was established by the family in order to find the missing artworks. Eight works were returned in 2015 by the SPK, including a statue of a lion by the artist August Gaul.

Other recently salvaged works include a Carl Blechen painting that was identified as Nazi loot in 2014, and was purchased back by the Kunsthalle Karlsruhe in June. As recently as October, the Jewish Museum in Berlin returned an oil sketch by Anton von Werner.

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