1821-1830: Jan Gossart, Neptune and Amphitrite, Adam and Eve and copy (1516-1560)

From left to right: Jan Gossart (called Mabuse), Adam and Eve and Neptune and Amphitrite; Adame and Eve, copy after J. Gossart. Berlin, Gemäldegalerie (Source: SMB Digital)

Presented and hidden, moved and kept still – Three paintings and their movements

by Eleanor Dahlke

From a crowded house to a crowded museum, into the next crowded museum, into a cellar, to the USSR and back to Berlin. These three paintings have a unique shared history, being divided and reunited multiple times. Their treatment and the attitudes towards them can tell us a lot about the history of collecting, exhibition practices and museum trends.


Neptune and Amphitrite, Jan Gossart (called Mabuse), 1516, oil on oak, 191 x 128,4 cm, cat. no. 648.

Purchased from the collection of Edward Solly, 1821, Berlin.

Now in: Berlin, Gemäldegalerie.

Originally from: Suytburg Castle, Walcheren Island, Zeeland province, the Netherlands.

Passed through: Edward Solly collection (until 1821); Berlin, Königliches Museum am Lustgarten (1830-1904); Berlin, Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum (1904-1930); Berlin, Deutsches Museum (1930-1945); Berlin, seized by Soviet Commision of Art, and transported to Moscow (1945/46); Moscow, Official Restitution of German artworks (8th Sep. 1958), subsequent return to Berlin; Brussels, Belgium, Exhibition „Le siècle de Bruegel“ (1963) Berlin, Altes Museum, Exhibition “Kunst der Reformationszeit” (26.08.-13.11.1983)[1]

Conservation history: 1824, Christian Philipp Koester,[2] treatment unknown; before 1958, restored in the USSR[3], paint surface stabilized, panel glued at lower right corner, retouching in areas of lost paint surface, spot cleaning, retouching of varnish; January 1982, Kürschner, flaking paint stabilized, retouching with watercolours, varnished brightened by rubbing it with soft leather; March 1998, B. Graf, surface cleaning, treatment of blistered areas with ethanol, retouching.[4]

Adam and Eve, by Jan Gossart (called Mabuse), 1525/30, oil on oak, 170 x 114 cm, cat. no. 661.

Acquired by exchange from the Solly collection, 1830, London.

Now in: Berlin, Gemäldegalerie.

Originally from: the Netherlands.

Passed through: the Collection of Edward Solly (until 1821); Berlin, Königliches Museum am Lustgarten (1830-1904); Berlin, Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum (1904-1930); Berlin, Deutsches Museum (1930-1945); Berlin, seized by Soviet Commision of Art, and transported to Moscow (1945/46); Moscow, Official Restitution of German artworks (8th Sep. 1958); Berlin, Altes Museum, Exhibition “Kunst der Reformationszeit” (26.08.-13.11.1983)[5]

Conservation history: before 1958, restored in the USSR, paint surface stabilized, panel glued, retouching in areas of lost paint surface, spot cleaning, varnishretouched; 1961, flaking paint stabilized; January 1982, Herbert, flaking paint stabilized, losses in paint surface retouched in watercolour, varnish brightened by rubbing with soft leather; 2009, B. Graf, paint surface stabilized, filling and retouching, remains of a foam insulation tape removed from the edges of the panel.[6]

Adam and Eve, copy after Jan Gossart (called Mabuse), 1540/60, oil on oak, 190 x 108 cm, cat. no. 642.

Acquired by exchange from the Solly collection, 1830, London.

Now in: Berlin, Gemäldegalerie.

Originally from: unknown.

Passed through: Edward Solly collection (until 1821); Berlin, Königliches Museum am Lustgarten (1830-1904); Berlin, Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum (1904-1930); Berlin, Deutsches Museum (1930-1945); Berlin, remained in the air-raid shelter/ cellar of the Deutsches Museum and therefore in the later-formed GDR.

Conservation history: February 1949, areas of mold found, further treatment unknown.[7]


The entangled lives of paintings

The three paintings show similar motifs: two full-body figures each, filling the large panels, offering us an imposing view. Stylistically, they are similar, yet express different moods and messages.

Neptune and Amphitrite shows the wealth, education and military prowess on the seas of the commissioner of this panel, which was destined to be looked at from below, hanging high up with others of the same size in a castle. Its imposing, architectural motif was highly innovative and the first of its kind in North-Alpine Renaissance Europe.

Adam and Eve – Gossart is a beautiful rendering of the story of Adam and Eve in paradise, showing Adam cautioning Eve, who holds the apple, and other biblical scenes in the broad landscape in the background. The figures are caught in a conversational and dynamic attitude, providing the viewers with a very lively impression of the story. In contrast, Adam and Eve – Copy focuses more on the sorrowful – maybe moralising – aspects of the same tale. Its figures are resting, supporting each other in a rather contemplative mood.[8]

Though not much, if hardly anything at all, is known about these artworks prior to their presence in the collection of the English merchant Edward Solly in Berlin, their history in the Berlin museums is well recorded.

It is unclear where Edward Solly sourced these three works;[9] however, they were part of his vast collection before they went into the Royal Museum of Berlin. The museum committee selected Neptune and Amphitrite for purchase in 1819, though only purchased it in 1821, with a majority of the painting collection that Solly kept in his Berlin house, located on Wilhelmsstraße.[10] When Karl Friedrich Schinkel appraised the main works of Solly’s collection, he valued Neptune and Amphitrite at 3000 Thaler,[11] an average value considering the other artworks on the same list and quite low for the art-historical value that the painting holds nowadays. The two versions of Adam and Eve were not included in this first selection. Since Neptune and Amphitrite had been purchased so early on, there was ample time for restoration before the museum opened its doors in 1830.[12] The museum acquired the other two paintings that same year, probably to balance the proportion of Netherlandish and Italian paintings in the collection. Given the short amount of time available before the opening, Adam and Eve – Gossart and Adam and Eve – Copy likely arrived in the exhibition space unrestored.[13]

Since the paintings supposedly came to the museum with little to no provenance information and with titles and attributions connected to Solly’s erratic bulk buying habits,[14] this information had to be provided by the museum staff.[15] The staff immediately identified Neptune and Amphitrite as a Gossart due to the prominent signature on the painting. However, the unsigned Adam and Eve – Gossart and Adam and Eve – Copy required a little more connoisseurship and research. The latter was very quickly thought to be an original work of Gossart and retained that label until 1883 when, under Wilhelm Bode, the painting was declared a copy after Gossart.

Adam and Eve – Gossart it was more debated. When Schinkel visited Solly in London in 1829, records show that Solly erroneously described both Adam and Eve paintings as ‘in the manner of Van Eyck’.[16] From 1830 until 1860, the painting was ascribed to Herri met de Bles (c. 1480-1524),[17] a Netherlandish painter who was known for painting broad landscapes with figures in the foreground, though none ever as monumental as the figures in Adam and Eve – Gossart. This attribution was made because of an owl sitting at Adam’s right foot in the foreground, which was thought to be the painter’s monogram. Bode and his assistant Julius Meyer changed this attribution in the 1878 museum catalogue to Jan Gossart because of the style of the figures – and their attribution is still accepted today.

On the museum walls: visualizing catalogue numbers

When the Royal Museum opened in 1830, the paintings hung close together on the museum walls in an overcrowded fashion.[18] They were grouped into three classes (Italian, Netherlandish and German – along with antiquities and art-historical curiosities) and therein sorted more specifically according to their region of origin. Thus, our works all eventually landed in the same room, at the West corner of the second story in the newly-built museum (Fig.1). Visitors could purchase an abridged catalogue – connected to the number plates attached to the frames – with titles, artists and short descriptions.[19] From these old catalogue numbers, we can find out the approximate positions of the paintings in relation to each other. Adam and Eve – Gossart and Adam and Eve – Copy were separated by only three catalogue numbers, thus probably hung on the same wall with three smaller works between them. Neptune and Amphitrite appears ten catalogue numbers beforehand, possibly on an adjoining wall, but removed – due to its different subject – from the cohesive visual experience that the hanging of the two Adam and Eve produced.

Though the historical narrative of schools of geographically and artist-bound styles prevailed, symmetry was maintained in the hanging[20] (Fig.2), to give reference points for viewers and to aid the study and comparison of artworks. In the early days of public museums, geographical provenance and visual cohesiveness was the primary factor for curatorial decisions, not only in the Royal Museum of Berlin but also in Belvedere of Vienna, which showed the same categorization of works into geographical classes and sub-classes.[21]

Altes museum 1830
1. Royal Museum of Berlin, upper level, 1830. (Source: Berlin 1830)
interior remodellig of the Altes Museum, 1886
2. Plan for the interior remodelling of the Altes Museum, 1886. (Source: Zeitschrift für Bauwesen 36 (1886), p. 25)

Fifteen years later, in 1845, the hanging changed according to different curatorial priorities. Instead of grouping works by parallels in theme or style, it was preferred to keep one artist’s works together. During the change of the hanging, new catalogue numbers were assigned according to the old principle of just counting through, which beautifully preserves the order of the new hanging. We can reconstruct how Adam and Eve – Copy and Neptune and Amphitrite now hung closer together – only five catalogue numbers apart – while Adam and Eve – Gossart was a further 12 numbers away since it was still attributed to de Bles. Here again, we can imagine how the two works hang parallel to each other (possibly in the centre of a wall) and the third on an adjoining wall, with smaller works surrounding all of them.

Gustav Waagen, the first museum director, died in 1868, after which Julius Meyer took over the office for a brief period (1872-1880) without affecting our objects of interest. A significant change only happened after Wilhelm Bode took over the office and declared Adam and Eve – Copy a ‘copy after Gossart’.[22] Bode firmly believed that original artwork, or even a fragment, was infinitely more important to display than a copy.[23] As one would expect, after 1891, Adam and Eve – Copy was no longer mentioned in the catalogue and was likely not on display. Adam and Eve – Gossart joined Adam and Eve – Copy in the museum’s depot in 1898.

Interestingly, the place of storage can also be located. The Royal Museum did not have much storage space, and many works of art were stored either in the two corridors flanking the rotund or in the attic space, which was neither climate controlled nor fully built out (so, a very much inadequate place for the storage of delicate Old Master pieces according to modern conservation standards). On Fig. 3, which is a plan of the Altes Museum from 1886, after its remodelling, I have marked the corridor where larger paintings were stored, as indicated in the plan. It is likely that both Adam and Eve paintings were stored here, as their museum files contain notes that read “Vorrat. Oberer Korridor”.[24]

Plan for remodelling of Altes Museum, upper floor, 1886
3. Plan for the remodelling of Altes Museum, upper floor, 1886. (Source: Zeitschrift für Bauwesen 36 (1886), p. 24)

Over the years, the museum had become even more crowded, and the addition of a walkway to the newly built Neues Museum had further curtailed the exhibition space. Therefore, pieces similar to one another and considered as non-essential or less representative ended up in storage. However, we should not underestimate the importance of Bode’s judgement here. Not coincidentally, it was only after Bode’s death that Adam and Eve – Copy appeared on the museum walls again.

Due to the lack of space for the growing art collection, another museum was built at the Western tip of the Museum Island. It opened in 1904 as Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. This new museum only temporarily allayed the space concerns and did not meet the needs of the collection for a larger exhibition space. In the new museum, instead of separating the genres, Bode merged sculpture and painting with other decorative art pieces relevant to the historical period of the artworks in the room.[25] Like his predecessors, Bode sought to present an overview of art history, but he expanded this overview in both space and time: from Persian and Islamic art to a room modelled after a basilica of the Italian Renaissance. Because of the parallel growth of the paintings collection, the exhibition space was scarce from the beginning.[26] Hence, it is no wonder that two of our pieces, after a short appearance in the exhibition space, soon went into storage again.

When the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum opened, in 1904, Adam and Eve – Gossart and Neptune and Amphitrite were listed in the museum catalogue. They were probably exhibited on the upper floor of the South wing, where the Netherlandish rooms can be located on contemporary museum maps (Rooms 68-70). Two years later, however, Adam and Eve – Gossart was destined to the depot, where it rested with Adam and Eve – Copy. Thanks to a descriptive museum guide of 1906,[27] we can pin down a room in which Gossart’s works were exhibited, i.e. Room 69 (Fig.4). Though there is no direct mention of Neptune and Amphitrite, the only work on display at that time, this a very good approximation of its location in the museum.

Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, upper level, 1912
Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, upper level, 1912. (Source: Berlin 1912)

Although the museum records do not provide us with the detailed histories of our paintings, a descriptive catalogue from 1912 in the curatorial offices of the Gemäldegalerie has curious annotations. For Adam and Eve – Copy and Adam and Eve – Gossart, pencil annotations reading “/ Büro”[28] have been made, meaning the pair probably hung in an office in the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. It was not uncommon for pieces in storage to be hung in offices of museum employees, as multiple catalogues feature pencilled in lists.[29] We cannot reconstruct who might have borrowed the pieces, but this might be the first time since 1845 that the paintings were hung together again. How long the two paintings remained in a museum office is unclear. However, in 1921, the two paintings were once more listed in the catalogue as being in the museum’s depot[30] before the new Pergamon Museum opened on the Museum Island in 1930.

The building of the Pergamon Museum – named after the altar for which it was built – also housed the Deutsches Museum in its West wing. The North-Alpine works, including our three paintings, were moved there on October 2, 1930.[31] Like in the Altes Museum, we can locate the exact room in which they hung (Fig.5). According to the museum records, Adam and Eve – Gossart and Neptune and Amphitrite were exhibited in room 34, on the upper floor of the Deutsches Museum.[32] The records do not mention the exact location of Adam and Eve – Copy, but the painting was likely exhibited with the other two since all three appear in the catalogue of 1931.[33] Bode initially wanted to recreate historically inspired interiors as in the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, but ultimately preferred to leave the walls in simple white plaster, as was the customary practice at that time.[34] The three paintings remained in their new home on the Museum Island until the Second World War.

Deutsches Museum, upper level, 1932
5. Deutsches Museum, upper level, 1932. (Source: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: Gesamtführer. Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1932)

The Soviet seizure

As the war raged and bombs falling on Berlin became ever more likely, the artworks were evacuated and put in bunkers in Berlin or relocated to quarries and other locations in the countryside. Yet, many works remained in the cellars of the Museum Island, as it likely happened to our paintings. Though the most precious artefacts and artworks had been evacuated from the museum cellars for fear that the Museum Island would be bombed, it turned out that, in hindsight, the cellars were one of the safest places of storage. For instance, the guide tower of the defence bunker in Berlin-Friedrichshain housed many of the most precious artworks and archaeological artefacts of the Berlin museums.[35] Due to a lack of surveillance after the war ended, when the Soviet army took over the area, civilians could roam about the place and two fires broke out, the second tragically destroying many precious artworks.[36] However, nothing of the sort happened on the Museum Island, where the artworks were barely moved and less at risk. Therefore, the assessment that our three works were not important enough to warrant a ticket for evacuation proved fortunate in the end. They survived the war and the bombing of Museum Island unscathed, and even the humid climate of the museum cellars did not harm the paintings much.

Their storage on Museum Island did, however, make the works vulnerable to the trophy commissions of the Soviet army, a special division of the soviet army made up of soldiers, museum and library workers, and art historians. The commission sought to find artworks and books to take back to the USSR as reparations for their losses in World War I and – in their perspective – rescued the cultural assets from a fascist country. During the war, a list was made of ca. 2000 artworks to be taken from Germany to the USSR,[37] but the brigades often disregarded orders and took more than one million objects in the end.[38] Adam and Eve – Gossart and Neptune and Amphitrite were among them. The USSR planned to collect the seized artworks from Germany in a prestigious super-museum to demonstrate the Soviet power, but the plans remained unfulfilled.[39]

After the GDR was established in 1949 and more cries for restitution arose, the USSR finally accepted the requests. After many years in depots, a selected group of works from the German museum collections finally saw the light again in 1958, when they featured in an exhibition in Leningrad’s Hermitage titled Artworks from the GDR.[40] In the exhibition catalogue, our two paintings are listed one after the other. However, the catalogue sorts the exhibits by place of origin and therein, artist; therefore, we cannot ascertain the actual display.[41] 

Meanwhile, Adam and Eve – Copy most likely remained in the air-raid shelter beneath the Deutsches Museum on the Museum Island and became the property of the GDR. In the painting’s museum dossier, the notation 1945 Museum Berlin[42] confirms this hypothesis. The painting does not appear in any museum records after the war, but it might have been on display in the former Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, re-named Bode Museum in 1956.[43] After 1951, all museums in the Eastern part of Berlin – including the Museum Island – were subject to the GDR as “Staatliche Museen zu Berlin”.[44] Rebuilding took time and, though the first rooms in the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum were useable in 1953, it was not until 1987 that the whole museum was rebuilt.[45]

In 1958, the three paintings were finally in the same city again. The 8th of September marked the official handing over of the paintings from Moscow to East Berlin[46]. The restituted works were presented as being ‘twice-saved’ – once by the USSR from the Nazis and then ‘graciously handed back’ to the GDR.[47] The return of the artworks was celebrated in the Nationalgalerie of Berlin with an exhibition titled Schätze der Weltkultur von der Sowjetunion gerettet (Treasures of World Heritage saved by the Soviet Union),[48] where both Adam and Eve – Gossart and Neptune and Amphitrite were displayed.

Another important event took place in 1963, when the Royal Museums of Brussels held an exhibition of Belgian paintings of the 16th century.[49] Neptune and Amphitrite was shown alongside Hercule et Déjanaire and La métamorphose d’Hermaphrodite et la nymphe Salacis,[50] both studies for a cycle of large-format works. Gossart painted the cycle for the castle of the Netherlandish nobleman, admiral and bishop Philipp of Burgundy (1464-1524), which was destroyed in the late 16th century.[51] Neptune and Amphitrite is the only surviving painting of the cycle, though it is unclear why and how it survived. Together with Hercule et Déjanaire and La métamorphose d’Hermaphrodite et la nymphe Salacis, the Brussels exhibition gave a unique, although fragmentary view into Gossart’s work. This display and the catalogue  gave greater historical relevance to Neptune and Amphitrite by placing it in its historical context[52].

The paper label from the exhibition still exists in the painting’s museum dossier (Fig.6).[53] The dossier erroneously states that the label comes from a frame that was destroyed before 1945, which is impossible since the Brussels exhibition took place in 1963. The label is one of the few tangible pieces of information attesting the provenance of Neptune and Amphitrite. Furthermore, it shows that the painting’s frame was most likely changed after the exhibition.

Exhibition Siecle de Bruegel 1963
6. Paper label from the exhibition “Siecle de Bruegel” (1963) for Neptune and Amphitrite, formerly affixed to a frame, now in the painting’s file. (Source: SMB 648)

Back to the origins: reunions and modern exhibitions

Jumping to the more recent past: in 1990, after the reunification of Germany, all paintings from GDR museums became the property of the SMPK – the State Museums of Berlin under the foundation of Prussian cultural heritage – where they still are today. In 1998, the collection of Old Master paintings found a new home in the newly built Gemäldegalerie at the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz,[54] where the colours of the wallcoverings are reminiscent of the bright red walls of its predecessor, the Altes Museum.

As far as we can tell, Neptune and Amphitrite, Adam and Eve – Gossart and Adam and Eve – Copy were continuously on display, though Adam and Eve – Copy went into the depot sometime in the early 2010s. Neptune and Amphitrite has long been considered as a masterpiece of the museum and continuously appears in the catalogue of 200 masterpieces from the Gemäldegalerie, featuring detailed descriptions and large colour prints.[55] Therefore, it is no wonder that Neptune and Amphitrite and its companions Adam and Eve – Gossart and Adam and Eve – Copy were selected for the exhibition exploring Edward Solly’s collection within the Gemäldegalerie and its provenances for the 200th anniversary of its acquisition.[56] It was yet another opportunity to reunite paintings that had been long divided and shed new light on their shared history. Here, the paintings were hung next to each other, emphasizing their similar subjects.

The frames of Adam and Eve – Gossart and Neptune and Amphitrite might have changed over the years, especially considering that they were seized by the Soviet trophy brigades, but Adam and Eve – Copy retained its first museum frame. The bright gold frame with palmette arabesques in the corners was purposefully designed by the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel to match the general style of the Altes Museum. The XIX. century frame even carries the original catalogue number ‘642’ attached to it and the plaque stating the painting’s title (Fig.7). This frame further proves the historical value of the painting, which was much overlooked in the past.

Gossart, Adame and Eve frame
7. Adam and Eve, copy after Jan Gossart (called Mabuse), 1540/60, in its first museum frame designed by K. F. Schinkel, with the catalogue number and title affixed to the top. Photo of the author

In 2010, Neptune and Amphitrite and Adam and Eve – Copy were briefly sent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for the first solo exhibition of Gossart’s works in 45 years, titled Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures. Jan Gossart’s Renaissance. The extensive exhibition catalogue reconstructs the provenance of the exhibits, giving a unique overview. Considering the provenances of other Gossarts that passed through Solly’s hands, we can infer that Edward Solly most likely purchased Netherlandish paintings in London, where such art was fashionable at the time.

Solly bought multiple Gossarts from an auction house called Phillips, where our research track ends for now.[57] Harry Phillips founded this auction house in 1789 in Westminster. He died in 1840, after which his son continued the company. The modern Phillips Auctioneers is no longer associated with the business set up by Harry Phillips since that part of the company merged with Bonhams in 2001.[58] According to the ‘Provenance Research Guide’, the company papers are held at the British Museum,[59] but, travelling to London to consult them, I found out that the catalogues are now in the Wallace Collection Archive.[60] Unfortunately, there were no conclusive traces of our paintings in the Phillips auction catalogues either in the British Library database or at the Wallace Collection. Most likely, our works were part of an unrecorded bulk purchase and not selected and recorded individually by Solly.[61] Further complicating the research, Adam and Eve – Gossart and Adam and Eve – Copy are not signed, have common subjects and only received their currentattributions in the museum, making it very difficult to identify them in auction catalogues, lists, etc. Therefore, the history of our paintings before Edward Solly’s acquisition remains a mystery for now.

[1] RF SMB 648.

[2] Koester, Christian Philipp/ Rudi, Thomas (Hg.): Ueber Restauration alter Oelgemälde – Nachdruck der Originalausgabe von 1827 bis 1830. Berlin 2001. Bücherei des Restaurators Bd. 5. Seite 63.

[3] Before the restitution a number of artworks underwent restoration in the USSR to uphold the „being saved“-narrative. Any damages from transport, combat or unfortunate storage situations had to be remedied, so that no criticism could arise. Artworks were shattered, had mould stains, gunshot holes, were dirty or otherwise affected by transport and storage. Especially the artworks that were on the list for the propaganda-exhibitions had to be in perfect condition. [Akinša/Koslow/Toussaint 1995, p. 46-46] A reports of conservation treatments in the USSR were handed over during the restitution and later transcribed into the current files.

[4] RF SMB 648.

[5] RF SMB 661

[6] Ibid.

[7] RF SMB 642.

[8] In the London original (Jan Gossart, Adam and Eve, about 1520) of which our work is a silhouette copy, Adam points to his open mouth and Eve holds an apple with a bite missing, therefore making it a very moralising subject. In Adam and Eve – Copy, Adam’s finger is curled before his open mouth and the apple seems intact, therefore showing a different point of time in the story of the fall of man. The snake offers a fruit in its mouth as well, making it unclear whether Eve is supposed to be shown as tempting or shielding Adam from taking a bite.

[9] One might suppose that it was after 1813 that the works entered his collection, since Solly was not a collector before that date.

[10] Skwirblies 2007, p. 75. – also features accounts of visitors, describing the situation in Solly’s house: every nook and cranny crowded with paintings, every room filled and the collection in utter chaos.

[11] Skwirblies 2009, p. 88.

[12] Koester/ Rudi 2001, p. 63. The exact details of this restoration are not known.

[13] Koester describes in his writing that he had to undo badly done previous restorations on paintings from Solly’s collection, which Solly had likely done himself. It cannot be reconstructed whether or not these three previous restorations occurred. More in: Koester/ Rudi 2001.

[14] Skwirblies 2009, p. 92.

[15] It is said that Solly had many documents outlining the provenances of his collection, but these documents vanished soon after the collection was acquired for the museum.

[16] Exh.cat. Berlin 2021, p. 110.

[17] Also called „il civetta“ – the owl, because the animal was thought to be his monogram, which turned out to be a mix-up with an Italian artist who also used the owl as his symbol.

[18] The general style of hanging becomes evident in Fig.2. There is a sense of symmetry and smaller works fill the gaps between the bigger paintings. This can similarly be seen in Bennewitz von Loefen’s painting ‚Ausstellungssaal im Alten Museum mit den Tafeln des Genter Altares‘, 1881-84, which can be seen in the administrative offices of the Gemäldegalerie today (also: Klessmann 1971, p. 52). Though these two visual examples are from after the museum was remodeled, it still gives us an impression of the original hanging, which filled the walls completely. (Details of the museum interior and curatorial choices: Jahrbuch 1997 Beih., p. 178-213).

[19] Berlin 1830.

[20] Vogtherr 1997, p. 190-191.

[21] Stockhausen 2000, p. 19. Belvedere opened in 1783 and was a model for the curatorial organization of the Royal Museum.

[22] After realizing that the painting is a copy with the exact outlines of Gossarts ‚Adam and Eve‘ in Hampton Court Palace (today: National Gallery, London), which is much more similar in style to other known works by Gossart – Bode and Meyer changed the attribution.

Meyer/Bode 1878, p. 150 f., more on the London painting: New York 2010, p. 118–120, cat. 2.

[23] Gaethgens/Bode 1997, vol. 1, p. 128.

[24] Bildakten, Kopie nach Gossart, Kat. 642; Gossart, Kat. 661: „Vorrat. Oberer Korridor“ (engl.: „depot. upper corridor“)

[25] Bock 2000, p. 29.

[26] Savoy/Sissis 2013, p. 205.

[27] Schubring 1906, p. 233.

[28] Berlin 1912, p. 563.

[29] e.g. Berlin 1891.

[30] Berlin 1921, p. 601.

[31] Berlin 2021, p. 29.

[32] Bildakte, Gossart, Kat. 661 and 648.

[33] Berlin 1931, p. 197-198.

[34] Bock 2000, p. 36

[35] The entire first upper floor of the building was reserved for this purpose, but later more rooms were taken up for storage. Though many artworks were evacuated to the countryside in March of 1945, as to not let artworks fall into soviet hands, larger canvases and panels that could not fit in the baskets to go down into the quarry of Kaiseroda-Merkers in Thuringia had to remain in the bunker. [Akinša/Koslow 1995 p. 23]

[36] An overview of the losses are presented in: „Das verschwundene Museum“, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin 2015.

[37] It is not possible as of yet to inspect this list, as it is most definitely locked somewhere deep deep in some russian archive, so we will not know for some time whether these paintings were planned to be seized or not. Most likely though, they were not, since the trophy brigades took about 2,5 million objects in the end..

[38] Akinša/Koslow 1995, p. 118-127, 189-194; Akinša/Koslow/Toussaint 1995, p. 20-21, 36.

[39] Akinša/Koslow 1995, p. 46-60.

[40] More on this exhibition in: Artamonow: Kunstwerke aus den Museen der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (1960), kommentiert von Sabine Skott, in: Translocations. Anthologie: Eine Sammlung kommentierter Quellentexte zu Kulturgutverlagerungen seit der Antike, https://translanth.hypotheses.org/ueber/artamonow (published 25.07.2019).

[41] Leningrad 1958, P. 29-30.

[42] Bidakten, Kopie nach Gossart, Kat. 642.

[43] The museum was renamed “Museum am Kupfergraben” after the war and called “Bode-Museum” after 1957.

[44] Bock 2000, p. 40.

[45] Bock 2000, p. 42.

[46] Many artworks stayed behind. To this day, many seized artworks remain in unknown locations in the USSR. They may have been too damaged to be restituted, were lost, or kept for other reasons. It is therefore lucky that our two paintings both survived this time in their lives. [Chapuis/Kemperdick 2015, p. 28]

[47] Lindner 2021, p. 146-147.

[48] Leningrad 1958, catalogue numbers E74 and E73 respectively.

[49] Brussels 1963.

[50] Jan Gossart: Hercule et Déjanaire, oil on oak panel, 36,8 x 26,8 cm, The trustees of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham.

Jan Gossart: La métamorphose d’Hermaphrodite et la nymphe Salacis, ca. 1517, oil on oak panel, 32,8 x 21,5 cm, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

[51] P. L. Müller: Philipp von Burgund. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Band 26, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1888, p. 69; Berlin 2021, p. 108.

[52] Brussels 1963, p. 101-103.

[53] Bildakten, Gossart, Kat. 648.

[54] Bock 2000, p. 45.

[55] Berlin 2019.

[56] „The Solly Collection, 1821–2021: Founding the Berlin Gemäldegalerie“, from 03.11.2021 to 30.01.2022, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

[57] [New York 2010, p. 195]: cat. 24 A/ B, Jan Gossart, “Two wings from the so-called Salamanca Triptych”. A: Left wing, exterior: The Angel Gabriel, interior: Saint John the Baptist. B: Right wing, exterior: Virgin Mary, interior: Saint Peter. 1521, oil on panel, left wing 120 x 47 cm, right wing 120 x 47 cm, signed and dated, Toledo Museum of Art. Provenance: […] [Alexis Delahante, London, by May 1811]; (sale, Phillips, London, May 10, 1811, no. 61 as part of a Deposition triptych); (sale, Phillips, London, June 4, 1814, no. 61 as part of a Deposition triptych); Edward Solly, Berlin and London, by 1833, until 1837 (his sale, London, May 31, 1837, no. 86 as “an altarpiece in three compartments, to fold”); […]

[New York 2010, p.200]: cat. 25, Jan Gossart, The Deposition, ca. 1525, oil on panel (now transferred to canvas, ogee-arched top – perhaps not original), 141 x 106,5 cm, The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg. Provenance: […] [Alexis Delahante, London, by May 1811]; (sale, Phillips, London, May 10, 1811, no. 57, with side wings, as Deposition triptych); (sale, Phillips, London, June 4, 1814, no. 61, with side wings, as Deposition triptych); Edward Solly, Berlin and London, by 1833, until 1837 (his sale, London, May 31, 1837, no. 86 as “an altarpiece in three compartments, to fold”); […]

[58] https://www.phillips.com/about; https://www.bonhams.com/about_us/, consulted on 28.09.2022.

[59] Yeide/Akinša/Walsh 2001, p. 234.

[60] Since it is not definitely known when Solly started collecting, I chose to look through the years 1816 to 1829 – in which year some last works were chosen from the collection by Schinkel in Solly’s London home. For a detailed list, see appendix.

[61] The paintings also do not appear in Redford 1888 or Fredericksen 1988, 1990 and 1993.


Akinša, Kostjantyn; Kozlov, Grigorij. Beutekunst: auf Schatzsuche in russischen Geheimdepots. München: Dt. Taschenbuch-Verlag, 1995.

Akinša, Kostjantyn; Kozlov, Grigorij; Toussaint, Clemens. Operation Beutekunst: die Verlagerung deutscher Kulturgüter in die Sowjetunion nach 1945; zusammengestellt nach bisher unveröffentlichten Dokumenten aus Archiven der russischen Föderation. Nürnberg: Verlag des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, 1995.

Bock, Henning; Geismeier, Irene; et al. (eds.). Gemäldegalerie Berlin: Gesamtverzeichnis. Berlin: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 1996.

Bock, Henning. Gemäldegalerie Berlin: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz. Berlin: Fondation Paribas, 1997.

Bode, Wilhelm von. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis der Gemälde im Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Königliche Museen zu Berlin. Berlin: Reimer, 1906.

Chapuis, Julien; Kemperdick, Stephan (eds.). Das verschwundene Museum: die Verluste der Berliner Gemälde- und Skulpturensammlungen 70 Jahre nach Kriegsende / für die Skulpturensammlung und die Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2015.

Eisler, Colin. Meisterwerke in Berlin: die Gemälde vom Mittelalter zur Moderne. Köln: DuMont, 1996.

Fredericksen, Burton B. (ed.). The Index of Paintings Sold in the British Isles during the Nineteenth Century, Volume 1, 1801-1805. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 1988.

Fredericksen, Burton B. (ed.). The Index of Paintings Sold in the British Isles during the Nineteenth Century, Volume 2, 1806-1810. Vol. 2, Part 1 and 2. Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 1990.

Fredericksen, Burton B. (ed.). The Index of Paintings Sold in the British Isles during the Nineteenth Century, Volume 3, 1811-1815. Vol. 3, Part 1 and 2. Munich: KG Saur, 1993.

Gaehtgens, T.; Paul, B. (eds.); Bode, Wilhelm. Mein Leben. Vol. 1. Berlin: Nicolai, 1997.

Geismeier, Irene. Gemäldegalerie: Malerei 13. – 18. Jahrhundert im Bodemuseum; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie. Berlin: Henschel, 1990.

Justi, Ludwig. Wiedersehen mit Museumsgut: erste Schau seit 1940 aus Beständen der Berliner Kunstmuseen; eröffnet im Schlossmuseum am 21. Dezember 1946. Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1946.

Klessmann, Rüdiger. Gemäldegalerie Berlin. Essen: Magnus Verlag. 1971.

Koester, Christian Philipp/ Rudi, Thomas (Hg.). Ueber Restauration alter Oelgemälde – Nachdruck der Originalausgabe von 1827 bis 1830. Bücherei des Restaurators, Bd. 5. Berlin, 2001.

Lindner, Simon. Die Doppelte Rettung der Sixtina. In: Lagatz, M.; Savoy, B.; Sissis, P. (eds.) Beute. Ein Bildatlas zu Kunstraub und Kulturerbe. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz Berlin, 2021: 144-147.

Meyer, Julius; Tschudi, Hugo von. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis der Gemälde: Königliche Museen zu Berlin. Berlin: Spemann, 1891.

Michaelis, Rainer. Gemäldegalerie: Verzeichnis der verschollenen und zerstörten Bestände der Gemäldegalerie. Berlin, 1995.

Redford, George. Art sales: a history of sales of pictures and other works of art. (1628 – 1887). with notices of the collections sold. Vol. 1 and 2. London: Whitefriars Pr., 1888.

Rudi, Thomas (ed.); Köster, Christian. Ueber Restauration alter Oelgemälde; Nachdruck der Original-Ausgabe von 1827 bis 1830. Leipzig: Seemann, 2001.

Savoy, Bénédicte; Sissis, Philippa (eds.). Die Berliner Museumsinsel: Impressionen internationaler Besucher (1830-1990); eine Anthologie. Wien; Köln; Weimar: Böhlau, 2013.

Schubring, Paul. Moderner Cicerone: Berlin. Das Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. Stuttgart, Berlin, Leipzig: Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1906.

Skwirblies, Robert. Ein Nationalgut, auf das jeder Einwohner stolz sein dürfte: Die Sammlung Solly als Grundlage der Berliner Gemäldegalerie. In: Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, 2009, 51 (2009), 69-99.

Skwirblies, Robert. Altitalienische Malerei als preußisches Kulturgut: Gemäldesammlungen, Kunsthandel und Museumspolitik 1797-1830. Berlin, Boston: de Gruyter, 2017.

Vogtherr, Christoph Martin. Das Königliche Museum zu Berlin: Planungen und Konzeption des ersten Berliner Kunstmuseums. In: Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, Vol. 39, Beih., Berlin: Mann, 1997.

Winter, Petra. “Zwillingsmuseen” im geteilten Berlin: zur Nachkriegsgeschichte der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin 1945 bis 1958. Berlin: Mann, 2008.

Yeide, Nancy; Akinša, Kostjantyn; Walsh, Amy. The AAM guide to provenance research. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums, 2001.

Exhibition catalogues:

Berlin 1830: Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Verzeichniss der Gemälde-Sammlung des Königlichen Museums zu Berlin. Berlin: Druckerei der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1830.

Berlin 1891: Königliche Museen zu Berlin. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis der Gemälde. Dritte Auflage. Berlin: W. Speemann, 1891

Berlin 1912: Königliche Museen zu Berlin. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis der Gemälde im Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. Siebente Auflage. Berlin: Verlag Georg Reimer, 1912.

Berlin 1921: Staatl. Museen zu Berlin. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis der Gemälde im Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. Achte Auflage. Berlin, Leipzig: de Gruyter, 1921.

Berlin 1931: Staatl. Museen zu Berlin. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis der Gemälde im Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum und Deutschen Museum. Neunte Auflage. Berlin, 1931.

Berlin 2019: Eissenhauer, Michael (ed.). Gemäldegalerie – 200 Meisterwerke der europäischen Malerei. Leipzig: E.A. Seemann; Berlin: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 2019.

Berlin 2021: Skwirblies, R. (ed.); Rowley, N.; Kemperdick, S.; et.al. Die Sammlung Solly 1821-2021: vom Bilder-“Chaos” zur Gemäldegalerie. Berlin, München: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2021.

Brussels 1963: Le siècle de Bruegel: la peinture en Belgique au XVIe siècle. Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Bruxelles. 27 septembre – 24 novembre 1963. Bruxelles, 1963.

Leningrad 1958: Gukovskij, M. A. Выставка произведений искусства из музеев Германской Демократической Республики: каталог/ [общая ред. М.А. Гуковского]; Министерство Культуры СССР, Государственный Эрмитаж. Ленинград: Издательcтво Государственного Эрмитажа, 1958.

New York 2010: Ainsworth, Maryan (ed.) et al. Man, myth, and sensual pleasures: Jan Gossart’s Renaissance; the complete works. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 5, 2010 – January 17, 2011, and the National Gallery, London, February 23 – May 30, 2011. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2010.


Berlin, Bildakten der Gemäldegalerie – Staatliche Museen Berlin, Kopie nach Jan Gossart, Kat. Nr.642.

Berlin, Bildakten der Gemäldegalerie – Staatliche Museen Berlin, Gossart, Jan, Kat. Nr.648.

Berlin, Bildakten der Gemäldegalerie – Staatliche Museen Berlin, Gossart, Jan, Kat. Nr.661.

RF SMB 642: Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Restoration file for “Adam und Eva” – Kopie nach Jan Gossart.

RF SMB 648: Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Restoration file for “Neptun und Amphitrite” – Jan Gossart.

RF SMB 661: Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Restoration file for “Adam und Eva” – Jan Gossart.

Auction catalogues, Harry Phillips Auctioneers, 1816-1829, British Library, London

Auction catalogues, Harry Phillips Auctioneers, 1816-1829, Wallace Collection Archive, London


Harry Phillips auction catalogues, accessible via Brill online at the British Library, London [accessed 27.07.2022]

1816:  02.04., 06.08.

1817:  14.01., 02.04.

1818:  27.07.

1821:  17. 03., 20.03., 30.05., 14.07.

1822:  11.03., 22.03., 02.05., 01.06., 28.06.

1823:  19.04., 05.03., 10.05., 09.09., 23.09., 10.10.

1824:  01.03., 25.03., 07.05.

1825:  06.06.

1826:  01.04., 14./15.04., 27.05., 03.06., 23.10.

1827:  11.05., 18.06.

1828:  29.03., 16.06., 23.06.

1829:  03.04., 01.05., 07.05., 23.05., 28.05., 10.06.

Harry Phillips auction catalogues, Wallace Collection Archive, London [accessed 01.08.2022. Items in parentheses I had already looked through at the British Library. The Archive has the nearly complete catalogues from 1796 to 1849]

1816:  15.04., 08.05., 17.05., (06.08.), 11.07., 26.09.

1818:  10.03., 24.04., 30.04., 30.05., (27.07.), 23.11.

1819:  25.03., 26.03., 31.03., 03.04., 05.04., 26.04., 08.06.

1820:  24.05., 14.09., (14.07.)

1821:  21.07., 15.-18.09.

1822:  09.02., 09./11.02., 13.05., 04.06.

1823:  (19.04.), 26.04., 01./02./06.05.

1824:  22.04., 24.05., 28./29./31.05.

1826:  (14./15.04.), 27.04., 19.05., 29.05., 06.06., (23.10.)

1827:  15.02., 31.03., (11.05.), 18.05., 16.06., (18.06.), 21.06., 11.10.

1828:  20.02., 03.03., 19.03., 02.05., 31.05., 23.06., 02.07., 08.07., 10.07.

1829:  11.04., (01.05), (10.06.),19.06.

Catalogue findings:

10.03.1818 – multiple Adam and Eve paintings in auction, but none identifiable as our objects due to missing information on size and medium, as well as vague or missing descriptions.

30.05.1821 – lot. 34: ‚Adam and Eve in Paradise‘ by Domenichino, unlikely to be confused in style with Gossart.
 – lot. 134: ‚The Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite‘ by Teniers, (a painting of the same title and artist is in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie today). The only other mentions of a Neptune and Amphitrite motif appear in a catalogue of 1816 (20.04.) – lot. 117: ‚Neptune and Amphitrite‘ by ‚Moine‘, which is unlikely to be Gossart’s Neptune and Amphitrite, and 1828 (23.06.) – lot. 298: ‚Teniers. Neptune and Amphitrite in a car drawn by sea horses, surrounded by nymphs and tritons, a silvery pisticcio‘ (measurements given: 14 1/2 by 11), which can be categorised as irrelevant to this research.

03.06.1826 – lot. 146: ‚Twenty-eight various scriptural, after Rembrandt &c‘. Similar lots or even less descriptive mixed lots (e.g. ‚seven various‘) appear in many Phillips catalogues, making the paintings in auction unidentifiable.

31.03.1827 – lot. 30: ‘Mabuge: The Virgin and Infant Saviour’, here the only work by Gossart (arch. Mabuge/Mabeuge) that appeared in my search, proving that a work by Gossart did pass through Phillips Auctioneers and they likely offered other similar artworks, but not in any way a conclusive clue for the provenance of the paintings in question.

18.06.1827 – lot. 143: ‚Adam and Eve‘ by Breughel and Rottenhamer, unlikely to be confused with a work by Gossart, due to differing styles.

18.09.1829 – lot. 140: ‘Adam and Eve driven from Paradise’ by ‘Josepino’, likely not one of the works in question but not further identifiable.

Cite as: Eleanor Dahlke, 1821-1830: Jan Gossart, Neptune and Amphitrite, Adam and Eve and copy (1516/1560), in: The Lives of Pictures | Das Leben der Bilder, edited by Matilde Cartolari, https://livespics.hypotheses.org/1566, published on 18.01.2023.

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OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Matilde Cartolari (ed.) (January 18, 2023). 1821-1830: Jan Gossart, Neptune and Amphitrite, Adam and Eve and copy (1516-1560). The Lives of Pictures | . Retrieved July 23, 2024 from https://doi.org/10.58079/qz1k

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