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Karl Walther, Florian Strasse, Krakau

Karl Walther, Florian Strasse, Krakau Karl Walther, Florian Strasse, Krakau Karl Walther, Florian Strasse, Krakau

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'Florian Strasse', Krakau ('Florian Street in Krakow')

Krakau, Capital of the Nazi 'Generalgouvernement'

Karl Walther was exempt from military services until September 1944. During World War II he was ordered by the Nazi-regime to paint cities within the ‘Generalgouvernement’, the occupied area of the Second Republic of Poland that was under colonial administration of Nazi Germany from 1939 to 1945. The Nazi government designated this territory as a separate administrative region of the Third Reich. It included much of central and southern Poland, and modern-day western Ukraine. In 1942 Walther went to the cities of Marienburg (North Poland), Danzig (North Poland) and Krakau, the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Krakau, situated in southern Poland, was also the capital of the Nazi General Government.
In the book ‘Karl Walther, Leben und Werk’ are six other paintings depicting the city of Krakau, all created by Walther in 1942. Walter went back to Krakau in July 1943 (the painting we are offering must have been created in 1942 or in 1943).
On 1 September 1944 he had to join the Wehrmacht to fight in northern Italy. Meanwhile, his atelier in Munich at the Alfonsstrasse nr. 11, 4 stock, was hit by an unexploded shell. Walther was taken as a prisoner of war in Rimini in 1945 and was released in the second quarter of 1945.

A label at the back of the painting with the text: 'Karl Walther, München, Alfonsstrasse 11, IV' (this was the adress of his studio from 1940 to 1966) and 'Florian Strasse in Krakau, 74 x 93'.   


          
Reichskammer, the ‘National Chamber of Cuture’ 
On the sticker on the back of the painting - where Karl Walther’s name is filled in - is written ‘Reichskammer-Mitglieds-Nr’ (Number of membership of the Reichskammer). The ‘Reichskammer der Bildende Kunsten’ was established by law in 1933 at the insistence of Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels and it served as a professional organization for all German creative artists. Its goal was to control all cultural activities in Germany, promoting art created by 'Aryans' and seen as consistent with Nazi ideals. Every artist had to apply for membership on presentation of an Aryan certificate. A rejected inscription resulted in a ban from the profession.
In the years after World War II the Americans created in Germany the Information Control Division (ICD), the key structure in the political control of post-war German culture. The ICD was a non-violent  - but similarly totalitarian- version of the Reichskulturkammer. With its subdivisions, the ICD neatly replaced the Reich Chamber of Culture. The ICD established through its various sections a system of licensed activity, with screening and vetting by intelligence agents to exclude all politically undesirable artists.

The sticker on the back reads: ‘Karl Walther’, ‘Reichskammer-Mitglieds-Nr.’, ‘Württ. Kunstverein, Kunstgebäude Schlossplatz, Stuttgart-N‘. The Württembergischer Kunstverein (Art Association), founded in 1827, still exists and is housed in the same building, same address.

    
 

- condition : II                    
- size : 108 x 89 cm; unframed 92 x 74 cm     
- signed : right, under 
- type : oil on canvas                                
- misc. : created in 1942/ 1943
   



Karl Walther, ‘Platz beim Zeughaus Berlin’, (‘Near the Zeughaus in Berlin’, location Unter den Linden). GDK 1940, room 5. Bought by Hitler for 2.500 Reichsmark.
Karl Walther, ‘Kaufingerstrasse in München’, (‘Kaufingerstreet in Munich’). GDK 1941, room 5. Bought by Hitler for 4.000 Reichsmark.
  


Karl Walther, ‚‘Isar Tor‘. This work, depicting the Isar Tor ('Isar Tower') in Munich, was displayed at the GDK 1943, room 32.



Karl Walther working on the ‘Isar Tor‘. 
The pictures are from the film 'Art in the Third Reich', part III (at 3.05).
    


Left: Karl Walther, ´Naumburger Dom´. GDK 1939, room 33. The painting, bought by Adolf Hitler, hung for several years in the New Reich Chancellery. Sold by a German auktion house in 2013.
Right: Karl Walther, Würzburg, ‘Die Alte Mainbrücke’ (‘The Old Main-Bridge’).
  


Left: Karl Walther, München, ‘Karlstor’.
Right: Karl Walther, München 1943, ‘Viktualienmarkt’
  


Karl Walther’, ‘Portrait of a Man’ (or ‘Woldemar Sacks’). Depicted in ‘The Pittsburg Press’ (Pennsylvania), 18 October 1931. Displayed at the International Exhibition of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, 1931. Also depicted in ‘Karl Walther, Werk und Werden eines Impressionisten’, 1948, and in ‘Karl Walther, Leben und Werk’, 1995.



Links: Karl Walther, Berlin, ‘Der Mühlendamm zu Berlin’, 1932.
Right: Karl Walther, ‘Alt Berlin’, 1938. In possession of the Museum der Bildende Künste, Leipzig.
  


Karl Walther, ‘Waldstrasse in Leipzig’, GDK 1937, room 12.
Karl Walther, ‘Thomaskirche in Leipzig‘ (‘St. Thomas Church in Leipzig‘). GDK 1938, room 32. Bought by Hitler for 3.500 RM. Depicted in ‘Die Kunst für alle’, 1942.
  


Karl Walther, 'Sendliger Tor in München' ('Sendliger-portal in Munich'). GDK 1943, room 5. Bought by Hitler for 4.750 Reichsmark. Depicted in 'Die Kunst', August, 1943.





Karl Walter
Karl Walther (1905 -1981), born in Zeitz (Saxony), was a painter of the late-impressionist style. Following a lithographer apprenticeship, Walther studied music (1920) and then painting (1925) at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig with Heinz Dörffel and Fritz Ernst Rentsch. In Leutzsch (Leipzig) Walther had his first studio. Walther had his first solo exhibition in September 1926 at the gallery of Heinrich Barchfeld in Leipzig, followed by an exhibition at the gallery of Victor Hartberg in Berlin in the same year, and at the Berlin Secession in 1928. In 1932 he received the Albrecht Dürer price. International exhibitions followed in the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh in 1931, 1935 and at the XXI Venice Biennale in 1938. Painting stays abroad led him to Lake Lugano, Florence, Tuscany, Paris and Amsterdam. In 1940 Walther moved from Leipzig to Munich and in 1943 to Seeshaupt at the Lake Starnberg.
His works included portraits, still life, city views and landscapes but the majority of his paintings were architectural views and old cities. Many of his paintings show beautiful German cities before they were destroyed in the Second World War. He returned to every place he painted two or three times in order to assess the right incidence of light. He did not paint the cities in an ideal form, or in a timeless state, or in detail. He pictured them realistically, as if they were pure and always without a political coloration.
Twenty-eight of his paintings hung in the Great German Art Exhibitions. Hitler bought 7 of them. Other buyers were also Adolf Wagner, Martin Bormann and other Gauleiters and nazi-instutitions. In March 2013 a painting by Karl Walther depicting the Naumburg Cathedral was sold for 23.000 Euro at a German Auction. This work was bought by Hitler for 3.500 Reichsmark at the Great German Art Exhibition in 1939; it hung in the Reich Chancellery for several years.
Karl Walthers talent and his success during the Great German Art Exhibitions, preserved him for a long time from the conscription to the Wehrmacht. Until mid-1944, after having completed a number of Würzburg-views at the invitation of Prof. Heinrich Dikreiter (Founder of the Municipal Gallery of Würzburg), Walther was exempted from military service. Finally, on September 1, 1944, Walther was called up to military service and served in Northern Italy, where he fell into British captivity.
After WWII Walther created many pictures of the destroyed city of Munich. In the summer of 1947, his paintings were exhibited at the Würzburg city hall, in 1950, Walther again participated in the International Carnegie Exhibition in Pittsburgh. He was a member and vice president of the Munich Artists' Association for a long time and participated in their annual exhibitions. In 1976, he created his last paintings in Berlin.
Nowadays paintings of Karl Walther are displayed in galleries and museums in Bayreuth, Chemnitz, Köln (15), Leipzig, Mannheim, München, Nürnberg, Stettin, Stuttgart and Würzburg. The German Historical Museum in Berlin is in the possession of 'Platz beim Zeughaus Berlin' and 'Kaufingerstrasse in München'.