André Derain, «Le village», ca. 1912, private collection. Exhibition Sammlung des Basler Kunstvereins, 1939, Kunsthalle Basel, cat. no. 42, Basler Kunstverein, former collection Martha Nathan.
Photo negative from the associated partial estate Atelier Spreng (Spreng_045_007), Archiv Basler Kunstverein / Kunsthalle Basel.

Request for deposit of artworks.
Letter from Martha Nathan, Frankfurt am Main, to Wilhelm Barth, Basel, August 02, 1931. «Depositum Martha Nathan», Archiv Basler Kunstverein / Kunsthalle Basel.

List of artworks Deposit Martha Nathan, without date [1931].
«Depositum Martha Nathan», Archiv Basler Kunstverein / Kunsthalle Basel


Depot in Basel – «Martha Nathan»

In August 1931, Martha Nathan (1874–1958, née Dreyfus) requested the then conservator of the Kunsthalle Basel, Wilhelm Barth (1869–1934), if she could send a portion of her collection to the Kunsthalle Basel for safekeeping. Martha Nathan, a Jewish widow from Frankfurt am Main, came from a banking family and was married to Hugo Nathan (1861–1921). Her great-grandfather stablished a trading house in Basel, which continues to exist today.

Wilhelm Barth responded positively, stating that it would be a good fit, as he intended to display the artworks in the upcoming exhibition Meister des XIX. Jahrhunderts in October. Just a few days later, he informed Nathan about the arrival of 40 artworks in Basel, including well-known names such as Ferdinand Hodler, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso.

Over time, the artworks from the Kunsthalle Basel’s depot followed various paths: they were exhibited on different occasions, partially returned, placed on consignment, or sold.

Today, numerous artworks from the Nathan Collection are the subject of provenance research, aiming to determine the extent to which they were seized as cultural assets due to Nazi persecution.