A walk through Borek - collections of the Wroclaw's Jews

Published on: 22 / 11 / 2010

Borek (Kleinburg in German) was incorporated by Wrocław by the end of the 19th century. The most luxurious part of this quarter was the estate of villas bordering on South Park in Wroclaw. From the second decade of the 20th century, in some of the newly erected pompous villas, imposing artworks' collections were formed. It can be strongly emphasized that if these collections remained intact till the present day, they would form the most imposing gallery of impressionism in this part of Europe.

We suggest starting in South Park, which borders on the villa (Landsbergtrasse 1-3, presently ulica Kutnowska; the building currently houses mainly the Wroclaw's Meddical Park of Science and Technology) that was formerly owned by Max Silberberg – owner of one of the most precious collections of painting in the city. From the end of 1920s the villa was a meeting place for artists and art critics. The interiors were once decorated with numerous canvas paintings by impressionists: Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro and Sisley. In the salon designed by August Endell, director of the Wroclaw's Academy of Fine Arts, hung the canvas paintings by Cezanne, Renoir and van Gogh (according to an archival photo). The collection's pride were compositions by Delacroix, Corot, Courbet and Manet. In the garden near the villa, currently unfortunately changed into a car-park, was originally located a terracotta female statute, executed by Georg Kolbe.

In nearby distance, in the current Januszowicka Street 18 (previously the Kleinbergstrasse, the building currently owned by a private owner) lived Carl Sachs. The still preserved villa was erected for Sachs in 1907, by the architect Fritz Behrendt. The collection of prints and drawings, formed by the owner, was among the most precious in the city. The works by German artists were devolved by Sachs to Silesian Museum of Fine Arts in 1931. Along with engravings the villa was formerly decorated also with splendid portraits by Renoir and Manet, and with canvas paintings by Delacroix, Pissarro, Courbet or Sisley. Within the collector's property were also numerous compositions by native artists: Max Liebermann, Carl Spitzweg and Wilhelm Leibl (read an article about the collection). On the property formerly bordering on the Sachs' garden rises the villa that once belonged to Emil Kaim (No. 16, currently in private possession). Also this entrepreneur and Wroclaw's renowned bibliophile owned paintings by famous artists (mainly by Wilhelm Trübner and Lovis Corinth).

In the neighbouring street, in the still preserved villa by Akacjowa Avenue 12 (Akazienallee, the building currently houses the British International School of Wrocław), whose interiors were altered in accordance with the planned exhibition of the large collection of paintings, works on paper and sculptures, was inhabited by Leo Lewin. In 1917 the collector acquired a building erected one decade before by the Wroclaw's architect of Jewish origin Richard Ehrlich, for the consul Fritz Ehrlich. On the Lewin's order its interiors were newly arranged by a renowned Berliner architect Oskar Kaufmann (in an archival photo a niche destined for exhibiting prints). The Lewin's villa, in the interwar period was being visited by renowned artists, like Max Slevogt or Max Liebermann. The visits resulted in creating portraits of the family members. Lewin gathered canvas paintings by the notable impressionists ad by contemporary painters. In his villa the landscapes by Courbet, Edvard Munch, Claude Monet, Cezanne i van Gogh were available to see. Along with them were works by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Corot and Picasso. Among Lewin's favorite artists was the Wroclaw's painter Adolph Menzel, the collector owned tens of his drawings and the famous painting entitled "The Easter Procession in Hofgastein” (read an article about Lewin's collections). In the neighbourhood by Lipowa Avenue (previously Lindenalle) at No. 12 lived the owner of the steam locomotive plant Leo Smoschewer (the villa is currently owned by a private possessor). he was engaged in local artistic life, belonged to the co-organizers of the Wroclaw's Jewish Museum. In the collection formed by him were mainly canvas paintings by the favorite trinity of German impressionists among the Wroclaw's collectors: by Lovis Corinth, Max Slevogt and Max Liebermann, and also by Hans Thoma, Oskar Moll and Alexander Kanoldt.

How important in the pre-war Wroclaw were collections formed by he Jews, can be confirmed by the fact that the series of issues dedicated to the local collectors edited in „Schlesische Monatshefte” wa initiated by the text dedicated to Wilhelm Perlhöfter's collection. This entrepreneur who lived in the Kirschallee 22 (presently Aleja Wiśniowa, the building hasn't remained) was mostly known to Wroclaw's inhabitants, at the instance of his collection of arts and crafts, mainly of glas and porcelain, which after 1929 was partly available to admire in Jewish Museum. An end to the collections owned by Jewish amateurs of art was put by the government of Nazis. Most artworks were confiscated and bidden on coercive auctions or overtaken by the state. The masterpieces that were once owned by the mentioned collectors can be currently admired in most prestigious museum institutions.

Project co-financed by Ministry of Labour and Social Policy under Government Project – Civic Benefit Fund.
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