Rediscovered Masterpiece by Egon Schiele to be Auctioned at Christie's Christie’s announces Egon Schiele’s lost masterpiece, Sonnenblumen or Wilted Sunflowers (Autumn Sun II) has been rediscovered and restituted to the heirs of Karl Grünwald.
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - London – Christie’s announces Egon Schiele’s lost masterpiece, Sonnenblumen or Wilted Sunflowers
(Autumn Sun II) has been rediscovered and restituted to the heirs of Karl Grünwald. The painting will
be offered for sale in London on 20th June 2006 (estimate: £4-6 million) and will lead the Impressionist
and Modern Art evening sale. This magnificent work has been missing, feared destroyed, for over sixty
years and was last seen publicly at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in the summer of 1937.
“It had become increasingly unlikely to imagine that Egon Schiele’s Wilted Sunflowers (Autumn Sun II) would publicly
resurface,” says Jussi Pylkkanen, President of Christie’s Europe. “This painting is of great art historical
importance and Christie’s is proud to have rediscovered and identified Wilted Sunflowers (Autumn Sun II) as well as
contributed to its restitution. We are extremely grateful to the Grünwald family for having entrusted us with the sale of
this masterpiece of the twentieth century”, he continued.
The incredible journey of this painting began in 1914, the year it was painted and first exhibited at the
Salon Triennal in Brussels. Purchased from the exhibition by Mrs. Xaver Gmür on the advice of Hugo
Jung, it seems that the outbreak of World War I delayed the payment of 3,000 francs due to its creator,
Egon Schiele. When the picture was finally returned to Vienna in 1917, the artist, assuming the sale had
fallen through, inadvertently sold the picture to another collector, Richard Lanyi. Shortly after the war,
however, the Gmürs were able to reassert their claim and obtain the painting at last.
The Wilted Sunflowers (Autumn Sun II) was subsequently acquired by the Austrian collector Karl
Grünwald, an art, textiles and antique dealer based in Vienna, who had provided textiles to the Wierner
Werkstatte. Recognising Schiele’s talent, Grünwald was instrumental in stopping the artist from going
to the front line, and had him appointed as a war artist. Much of the artist’s subsequent war images
stem from this period. In 1938, the year Hitler annexed Austria, Grünwald, who by this time had
amassed a first rate collection of Austrian art, fled Vienna for France. Settling in Paris, the collector
moved fifty paintings out of Austria, including the present work. Unfortunately, the Grünwald
collection, including Wilted Sunflowers (Autumn Sun II), was confiscated in Strasbourg, where it had been
placed in storage by Grünwald and sold at auction in 1942. Karl Grünwald escaped the war, but spent
most of his life searching relentlessly for his collection. He only had limited success until he passed
away in November 1964, when his family continued this pursuit.
Karl Grünwald had four children, Hannah, Frederic, Lena and François Grünwald. Tragically Karl’s
wife Steffany and their daughter Lena died in a concentration camp. After his father's death in 1964
Frederic, a successful and energetic businessman, worked hard to locate and recover the paintings
looted from his father. He had some success: first he located and obtained the restitution of a portrait
by Schiele of Karl Grünwald;