News 2019

Catalogue raisonné – project status and a rediscovery


Forest stream IV. c 1919
Watercolour over pencil on hard vellum
48,4 x 56,6 cm
Privately owned


The monograph on Oskar Moll written by Siegfried and Dorothea Salzmann in 1975 lists 579 works. Since taking over the Salzmann archive, by assessing sources, documents, art periodicals, catalogues of auctions, exhibitions and collections, as well as secondary literature, we have succeeded to date in verifying 821 original works by Oskar Moll: 463 paintings, 227 watercolours and gouaches, 87 drawings and collages, 30 prints and 14 craftworks. This is a provisional result, since the research has not yet been completed.
The aim is to build up a database containing the complete works, listed according to technique and almost all with illustrations. This task will subsequently be scientifically qualified with new work catalog numbers so that the database can probably be placed on the website in the next three years.

In the course of the attempt to reconstruct works by Oskar Moll confiscated during the Nazi period, one picture was rediscovered in 2018: a variegated watercolour showing one of his favourite motifs, a forest stream depicted by Moll, a great nature-lover, on one of his excursions through the Silesian Wölfelsgrund in the Glatz mountains between 1919 and 1920.
The Odyssey of this work, in which the nature scene is structured through the strong complementary contrasts between flowing and staccato brush-strokes, reads like a detective story. In 1921, it was catalogued no. 563 in the exhibition Handzeichnungen Deutscher Meister in the Galerie Arnold in Dresden. The brightly-coloured watercolour has been traced a year later to the Mannheim art dealer Buck, who made it over to the local Kunsthalle in 1923. In the course of confiscations carried out by the German Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in the Mannheim Kunsthalle on 28 August 1937, the work found its way into the Berlin depot, Schloss Schönhausen, where it was stored among the "internationally saleable" art-works (EK inv. no. 6128).
In 1939, the picture was still in the special storage of the Propaganda Ministry in Berlin, until one day it came into the possession of art dealer Bernhard A. Böhmer, who traded in confiscated works in Nazi Germany. Investigation is currently being carried out in the "degenerate art“ Research Centre in the Art History Department of the Free University of Berlin, into whether a private art collector had purchased this watercolour during Böhmer's lifetime, or from his estate after his suicide in May 1945.