An idyllic breakfast: the blissful-looking family of the Nabis artist is seated around a table by the window which affords a view across a bay. The figures are shown close to the viewer and form a compact unit. Thanks to their stylistic homogeneity, the patterns on the fabric of the clothing and the tablecloth fuse to form a decorative surface, whereby the identical patterns on the dresses of the mother and the younger daughter blend into each other. This work reflects Denis's view that a painting is primarily a surface covered with paint in a certain arrangement rather than the rendering of a subject.
Pauline Kowarzik (née Fellner; 1852–1930) grew up in the educated middle-class of Frankfurt and received private painting and drawing lessons at a young age. Later, she was taught by Heinrich Campendonk, among others. In 1896, she married the Viennese sculptor and medallist Josef Kowarzik (1860–1911), who taught sculpture at the Städelschule. Together, they were very active participants of Frankfurt’s art life and closely associated with the Städel Art Institute. Due to her notable knowledge of modern art, Pauline Kowarzik was the first woman to be appointed as a member with advisory capacity in the acquisition committee of the Städtische Galerie in 1916. During her tenure, the museum was able to acquire important contemporary paintings by Franz Marc, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Henri Matisse and Max Beckmann, among others. Kowarzik herself owned a significant collection with works by Campendonk, Cross, Denis, van Dongen, Heckel, Gauguin, Maillol, Niestlé, Rousseau, Sérusier and Modersohn-Becker. When the inflation in 1926 got her into financial trouble, Pauline Kowarzik sold her private collection to the Städel for a monthly life annuity. In 1937, 18 of the 34 works were removed from the museum as part of the “Degenerate Art” confiscation operation. Nowadays, they are either lost or in museums all over Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Switzerland. Heckel’s “Holsteinische Landschaft” was the only one of these works that the Städel was able to buy back.
Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.
The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.
Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:
The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.
Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.
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