10/19/23, 12.00 AM

After an adventurous odyssey ‘Landschaft italienischen Charakters’ (Landscape of Italian Character) by the Austrian painter Johann Franz Nepomuk Lauterer (1700–1733, inv. no. 5258) is to be returned to the collection of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen after more than 70 years. There, the painting, that was reported missing after World War II and was added to the database of the German Lost Art Foundation in 2012, will be reunited with its counterpart (BStGS, inv. no. 5259).

The two landscape paintings, which complement each other in terms of motif, originally came from Neustift Monastery near Freising, were. exhibited in branch galleries in the 19th century and at the Schaezlerpalais Augsburg in the early 20th century. From 1924 onwards they were displayed in the picture gallery in the palace in Bayreuth, a branch of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen.

After the outbreak of the war in 1939, the museums and branch galleries of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen and all paintings were successively evacuated to various safe locations, some of them historical buildings such as Neuschwanstein Castle or Herrenchiemsee, in the surrounding region of Upper Bavaria, to protect them from bombardments. The removal of works was based on priority lists and the new locations managed from a conservation and security point of view so as to safeguard the artworks in the best possible way. The same applies to all the documentation created for the new storage sites that has been preserved to this day in the form of numerous meticulously compiled lists. Nevertheless, there is no evidence to suggest that the missing painting by Lauterer was removed from Bayreuth and its whereabouts remained unknown ever since the beginning of the war. The possibility existed that it had been looted. 

The first official search announcements for this painting by the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen were made in inventories published between 1965 and 1973, without however any clues being generated as to its subsequent whereabouts. In 2011, the painting, having disappeared without trace, resurfaced on the American art market. At that time it was offered to the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen for purchase. Negotiations for its return with the descendants of an American soldier in the occupation forces failed, however, and all trace of the painting was lost for a second time. From 2012 onwards, the painting, along with almost 700 other search requests from the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, could be found on the Lost Art database with a picture and a description of the circumstances surrounding its loss.

In 2022, the missing painting turned up again in the USA. It was identified as the lost landscape by Lauterer by the lawyer Christopher A. Marinello, the founder of Art Recovery International, New York, in cooperation with his German colleagues, the lawyers Dr. Mara Wantuch-Thole and Dr. Ewald Volhard in Berlin. In order to ensure its orderly and lawful restitution, Christopher A. Marinello called in the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen were contacted.

With the support of the Federal Foreign Office and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany Chicago, the restitution of the painting was arranged. At the end of October 2023, the painting will be returned to its counterpart held in the collection of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich.

Text materials

Here you can download the press release in English.


Furhter image material will be available on request from Monday, October 23. Please contact from Monday, 23.10. onwards.

Johann Franz Nepomuk Adam Lauterer

Johann Franz Nepomuk Adam Lauterer, Landschaft italienischen Charakters, 1733 (before), 
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen
Photo: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen