April 22, 2009
Ria Munk by Gustav Klimt
I read today that the mayor of the Austrian town of Linz announced that the town will return the Klimt painting entitled, Portrait of a Woman (Ria Munk) to the descendants of a Jewish family who were robbed of it by the Nazis.
Linz Mayor Franz Dobusch said yesterday that the art historian contracted by the town confirmed that the painting had been seized by the Nazis in 1941 when Aranka Munk, Ria Munk’s mother, was deported to the Litzmannstadt concentration camp in Lodz, Poland where she died in 1941.
Art historian, Sophie Lillie, identified the work as a portrait of Ria Munk which the Munk family commissioned from Gustav Klimt in 1911 along with two others.
The daughter of an Austrian Jewish industrialist, Ria committed suicide in December of 1911 because of an unhappy love affair. Klimt painted a portrait of Ria on her deathbed and was then asked for others showing her alive. Klimt created two posthumous portraits of Ria in the following years. Klimt himself died before he completed the second portrait shown above.
The painting is worth 15 million Euro ($24 million Cdn) and the legal heir, remaining anonymous, issued a statement welcoming the decision and thanking local authorities, stating that the return of the painting was "profoundly joyful."