Events | Celebration of the Installation of Franz von Lenbach’s Portrait of Katia Pringsheim: Conversation with E. Randol Schoenberg, Robert Schoenhofer & Joan Weinstein. Musical Performance by the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra

Los Angeles, Thomas Mann House | October 29, 2022

For almost 80 years, a painting of an unnamed girl by renowned portraitist Franz von Lenbach was part of a private collection. When it appeared in an auction catalogue in 2018, it was identified as a portrait of Katia Pringsheim, who later married novelist Thomas Mann. The owner, Robert Schoenhofer, has since donated the painting to the Thomas Mann House in Pacific Palisades, the family's exile home. Schoenhofer joins lawyer and genealogist E. Randol Schoenberg in a conversation moderated by Joan Weinstein, director of the Getty Foundation. With Welcoming Remarks by German Consul General Stefan Schneider.

Even though the painting dating from 1892 has been treated as a nameless “portrait of a girl” for decades, it undoubtedly shows Katia Pringsheim at the age of seven or eight. Katia is seen in half profile with a red cap over her dark hair. Her face has been brightly illuminated by the painter and one is drawn to her eyes, her look – concentrated and attentive. When the painting was consigned to an auction house in 2018, Dirk Heiserer took notice of it. The literary scholar and chairman of the Thomas Mann Forum in Munich recognized that it was Katia Mann who was portrayed in the painting, and that it seemed to be a version of a portrait from the same time period that used to hang in Thomas Mann’s Pacific Palisades study and appeared on the cover of Katia Mann’s 1974 book My Unwritten Memoirs. Lenbach had painted numerous portraits of members of the Pringsheim family. When Katia’s parents, Alfred and Hedwig Pringsheim, both from prominent Jewish families, were finally able to leave Germany in late 1939, they took only very few possessions with them. Their exquisite art collection had been either auctioned off or confiscated. In 1940, the grandparents of the donor, Robert Schoenhofer, bought Lenbach’s “Portrait of a Girl” from an art dealer. After a thorough provenance report and discussions between Pringsheim heirs and Robert Schoenhofer, the painting has now been donated to the Thomas Mann House with the generous patronage of the Pringsheim descendants Claudia Beck-Mann, Angelica and Domenica Borgese, Katja Geb-Mann, Anthony Mann, Frido Mann, Raju Mann Ward, Gerrit and Arie Adriaensen, Ruth Bradshaw, Judith Forster, Mike Estermann, Paul Garver, Sarah Garver, Nick Garver, Yurika Pringsheim, Hsiuping Pringsheim, and Tamara Marwitz. By accepting this donation, Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e.V. has assumed the obligation to continue to pursue provenance research and to ensure that the portrait and information on its history are made accessible to the public.

On the occasion of the donation and the first public presentation of the painting at the Thomas Mann House, donor Robert Schoenhofer is joined in conversation by Randol Schoenberg, a lawyer and genealogist, specializing in legal cases related to the recovery of looted or stolen artworks, particularly those by the Nazi regime. Schoenberg is the grandson of composers Arnold Schoenberg and Eric Zeisl and widely known for successfully representing Maria Altmann, neé Bloch in her case against the Republic of Austria to return five paintings by Gustav Klimt from the estate of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer to their heirs. The conversation is moderated by Joan Weinstein, director of the Getty Foundation whose deep knowledge of the visual arts and strategic philanthropy has led to the creation of meaningful initiatives that have supported groundbreaking research and exhibitions. Weinstein has been active in professional organizations in the fields of art history and philanthropy and has served on a number of non-profit boards. The panelists will explore the potentials of and obstacles for provenance research in Germany and the United States and present the story of Lenbach’s painting and its journey to Pacific Palisades.

After the conversation and welcoming remarks by Stefan Schneider, German Consul General in Los Angeles, there will be a short concert with music by Clara Schumann and Gustav Mahler, performed by musicians from the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra.

In person event at the Thomas Mann House. By invitation only.

 


This event is a collaboration between the Thomas Mann House, Villa Aurora and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra.

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