The Siegfried Lämmle Art and Antiques Business

The art dealer Siegfried Lämmle Lämmle specialised in the sale of sculptures, the decorative arts, paintings and works on paper. Since 1922 his art and antiques business, founded in 1894, had been located in the representative Almeida Palais at 51, Brienner Strasse. Since the turn of the century it had become one of the best addresses for museums and collectors from all over Germany. Lämmle was an honorary member of the ‘Münchner Altertumsverein’ (Munich Antiquities Society), founded in 1864, and also belonged to the ‘Vereinigung der Freunde der Staatlichen Graphischen Sammlung München e. V.’ (Friends of the Prints Collection). Since 1928, his son, Walter, had assisted him in the ‘Kunst- und Antiquitätenhandlung’.

In August 1935, the Nazis informed Siegfried Lämmle that he had been barred from the ‘Reichskammer der bildenden Künste’ (Reich Chamber of Fine Arts). In autumn 1936 Siegfried und Walter Lämmle began to wind up their art business. The objections they made to the ‘Reichskammer’ about the forced liquidation of their business were to no avail. They were forced to sell their exquisite items at knock-down prices and witness the closure of their successful art and antiques business.

On 30 September 1938 Siegfried Lämmle fled to Los Angeles in the USA via Frankfurt a. M., together with his wife, Betty. They were met by Siegfried’s brother, Carl, who worked as a film producer and had founded Universal Studios in 1912. Together with his son, Walter, Siegfried Lämmle opened the ‘Laemmle Gallery’ in Los Angeles.

In September 1936 Siegfried Lämmle had informed his customers about the imminent closure of his business and announced that there would be drastic price reductions. Soon afterwards the museum director, Konrad Schießl, visited the art and antiques shop. Up until 1937 he made several purchases and acquired a total of 122 works of art for the Münchner Stadtmuseum, including an important batch of works known as the Krumper Bequest.

The Krumper Bequest comprises 52 architectural drawings by the Munich sculptor and architect Hans Krumper and by other artists including Friedrich Sustris, Johann Mathias Kager and Hubert Gerhard. These are predominantly designs dating from around 1600 for the interior furnishing of churches in Munich. The Krumper Bequest is a cultural document of considerable importance and great rarity.Before 1936, the museum director, Schießl, had – on several occasions – already attempted to acquire the bequest from Lämmle. It was not until the forced liquidation of the business and a drastic reduction in the price that this acquisition was made possible.

Following research work carried out at the Münchner Stadtmuseum on this acquisition, Siegfried Lämmle’s heirs in America were traced with the assistance of the Jewish Congregation in Vienna. An agreement was subsequently made with the family to buy back the works acquired. In this way it has been possible for the Krumper Bequest to remain in Munich as an important document of the city’s architectural history. The Münchner Stadtmuseum outlined the history of the Lämmle family in the exhibition ‘“Ehem. jüdischer Besitz” – Erwerbungen des Münchner Stadtmuseums im Nationalsozialismus’ (‘Formerly Jewish Property’ – Acquisitions by the Münchner Stadtmuseum during the Nazi Era) held between April 2918 and January 2019. The museum was pleased to welcome two members of the Lämmle family from the USA to Munich at the opening of the exhibition.

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