Porträt einer Dame mit Zigarette vor schwarzem Grund

The Rudolf Weigang collection in Dresden. A documentation about provenance research at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

Nearly all visitors to the Albertinum are probably acquainted with Oskar Zwintscher’s fascinating “Portrait of a Lady with a Cigarette” in the Max Klinger Hall, which the author Florian Illies called a “scandal” – “scandalous” on account of the stupendous modernity of a work that was produced as early as 1904 and which anticipates the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) of the 1920s. Equally popular is Emil Nolde’s oil painting “Sailing boats on Yellow Sea” dating from 1914; it is one of the relatively few works by “Brücke” artists in the Galerie Neue Meister.

  • DATES 12/04/2016—23/10/2016


These two fascinating paintings, along with several dozen others, are part of a large private collection which was originally held in Bautzen and then, from the 1930s, in a villa at Bautzner Landstraße 44 in the Loschwitz district of Dresden. The owners of the villa, Rudolf and Dorothea Weigang, fled from Dresden in 1945 before the advance of the Soviet occupying forces, leaving behind most of the furnishings of the house. After Red Army officers had lived in the house for some time, the Dresden city administration transferred an assortment of 48 objects – including these two paintings and also others by Robert Sterl, Gotthardt Kuehl and Hans Unger, as well as porcelain wares and ceramic jugs – to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, whose director, Wolfgang Balzer, had previously been given the opportunity at short notice to select the pieces.

Porträt einer Dame mit Zigarette vor schwarzem Grund
Oskar Zwintscher, Bildnis einer Dame mit Zigarette, 1904 Öl auf Leinwand, 82 x 68 cm, Albertinum | Galerie Neue Meister

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During the provenance research conducted as part of the “Daphne” project, the list written by Wolfgang Balzer setting out his selection was rediscovered. This was the key to identifying the works in the museums of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, since markings on the items could now be correlated with the list. Interior photographs taken in the villa on Bautzner Landstraße, which give an impression of the luxurious furnishings and enable several works of art to be identified beyond doubt, enabled the research to be brought to a successful conclusion.

The photographs were in an album made available by the descendants of the collectors, with whom the researchers had made contact. Now the whole story of the collection could be reconstructed. In the 19th century the Weigang family were the owners of a large and prosperous printing company in Bautzen, the “Chromolithographische Kunstanstalt und Steindruckerei Gebrüder Weigang”.  The family’s first home there is still standing and Bautzen’s municipal museum still holds numerous works of art that were provided or donated by this art-loving family.

The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden were very fortunate in that the descendants were prepared to negotiate the possibility of the works of art remaining in Dresden. The talks were ultimately successful, and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen succeeded in purchasing the entire collection and – in keeping with the wishes of the Weigang family – permanently securing them for the public. In addition to the two masterpieces mentioned above, the collection includes, for example, two porcelain bowls from the Edo period (17th century), which can continue to be admired in the Zwinger and which are among the earliest examples of cobalt blue underglaze décor.

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