Spoliation list - 'The Murder', Paul Cézanne

Oil on canvas, 65.4 x 81.2cm (25.75"x 31.97)

Acquisition: Bought in 1964 from Wildenstein
Reference: WAG 6242


Cézanne’s painting entitled The Murder has now been removed from our spoliation list of art works lacking a provenance between the period 1933-1945 thanks to research by staff of the Art Loss Register who discovered documentation in Norway that established its provenance during this period.

In 1918 the painting was bought from Paul Cassirer, the German journalist and art dealer who promoted the work of French and German Impressionists, by Julias Elias a German-Jewish theatre and art critic, who lived in Berlin.

On his death in 1927 Julias bequeathed his art collection, including the Cézanne painting, to his widow Julie and his only son Ludwig. Julius Elias was also celebrated in Norway as the first translator into German of the works of the Norwegian playwright, Ibsen, whose plays he promoted in Berlin.

In 1938 the Norwegian Foreign Minister invited Julie and Ludwig to leave Nazi-controlled Berlin and live in Norway. On 21 August 1943 Julie died in a hospital in Norway aged 70, her only son Ludwig having already been deported in 1942 to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz where he died.

Between 1943 and 1945 the Elias collection was apparently safeguarded by friends and neighbours in Lillehammer. In November-December 1946 French painting from the collection, including the Cézanne, were exhibited at the Kunstnernes Hus art gallery in Oslo.

In the summer of 1949 the painting was exported from Norway to England by Julie Elias’s niece and heir, Mrs. C. Levy of 3 Dartmouth Rd, Brondesbury, London NW2. By the mid 1950s the painting had been sold to Wildenstein’s, the London and New York based dealers who specialised in Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings.

Sometime in the mid 1950s Wildenstein’s lent it for a few months to the Hollywood film actor, Edward G. Robinson, famous for his gangster roles. In 1964 the Walker Art Gallery bought it from Wildenstein, London, with money donated mainly from local Merseyside businesses and commerce.