A Picasso Portrait Pulled From a Munich Art Museum

A Picasso Portrait is Pulled From a Munich Art Museum Due to Its Ownership Dispute After the Intervention of the German Culture Minister.

Apr 4, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
A Picasso Portrait
the 1903 portrait Madame Soler by Pablo Picasso


A Picasso portrait, the 1903 Madame Soler, is no longer part of the Pinakothek der Moderne’s collection. Overall, the museum pulled out the portrait because of an ongoing ownership dispute. The background of this event is a long-standing dispute between Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy‘s heirs and the Bavarian State Painting Collection. Although the painting was part of the museum’s history for six decades, that time ended.


A Picasso Portrait Could Be Forcibly Sold During the Nazis

The Pinakothek der Moderne.
The Pinakothek der Moderne.


Overall, the question of debate is whether the work was forcibly sold during the rise of the Nazis. The state acquired the painting at the end of the 17th century. The museum needed to take down the painting after the culture minister intervened. “I expressly call on the Bavarian state government to finally clear the way for the Bavarian State Painting Collections to agree to an appeal to the Advisory Commission”, Culture Minister Claudia Roth said.


The Limbach Commission also tried to resolve the matter. But, the Bavarian State Art Collections have yet to consent to any form of mediation. The Limbach Commission is a state-organization working on ownership disputes. Madame Soler shows the wife of Picasso‘s friend Benet Soler. He was a tailor.


A Picasso Portrait
The 1903 portrait Madame Soler by Pablo Picasso


Overall, Picasso painted it during his Blue Period. The museum refused to accept the option of stealing the art. Why? Because its previous owner transferred it across the Swiss border to an art dealer, while antisemitism was on the rise. In October 1935, the dealer Justin Thannhauser put Madame Soler and four other Picasso paintings up for sale. Just a few months after Mendelssohn-heart Bartholdy’s attack-related death occurred.

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Did the Museum Know the Artwork’s Background?

A Picasso Portrait


In 1940, Thannhauser escaped Germany and France under Nazi danger and brought the unframed paintings with him to the US. Through a Liechtenstein-based firm, the Bavarian State Art Collections acquired Madame Soler from Thannhauser in November 1964. The Pinakothek der Moderne museum, then displayed it.


The Pinakothek der Moderne argued that the painting’s transfer to dealer Thannhauser is legal, and that Madame Soler is not an example of stolen art. In contrast, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy ancestor Julius Schoeps claimed in a 186-page treatise titled Who Owns Picasso’s “Madame Soler”? How the Free State of Bavaria handled a stunning case of art stolen by the Nazis, which he released last year.




The Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art may also come in conflict with the Pinakothek der Moderne’s position. Also, this Picasso work was not the only one in the previously mentioned artists’ collection. There were two more facing a similar problem. They also were the subject of a settlement between his descendants, and the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.