The Arty Semite

Painting Stolen by Nazis Goes On View

By Laurie Stern

  • Print
  • Share Share
Wiki Commons
Egon Schiele’s ‘Portrait of Wally’ depicts the painter’s mistress and model, Valerie ‘Wally’ Neuzil.

After 10 years of a nomadic existence through state and federal courts, Egon Schiele’s “Portrait of Wally” can finally rest in peace. As determined by a July 20 court settlement, the painting, which was stolen from the estate of Jewish art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray by a Nazi agent in the 1930s, was purchased for the sum of $19 million from the Bondi estate by the Leopold Museum in Vienna.

As part of the settlement, the “Portrait of Wally” will also be on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York until August 18. An unveiling of the painting will take place at the museum on Thursday with guest speakers including former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and Andre Bondi, a representative of the Bondi estate.

According to Museum spokesperson Betsy Aldredge, the request to exhibit the painting at the Museum of Jewish Heritage was made in order to allow people to view the painting in a setting that memorializes Holocaust victims and honors those who survived.

The Leopold Museum loaned the painting to New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1997, but its origin later underwent investigation by Morgenthau, as it was deemed to be stolen property under New York State law. The Customs Service eventually assumed responsibility for the painting and returned it to the Bondi estate for re-sale.

Schiele, an Austrian painter who died of influenza in 1918 at the age of 28, led a tumultuous life. In between spurts of poverty he served in the Austrian army and even went to prison for exposing minors to pornographic images.

The woman he depicts in “Portrait of Wally” is reportedly Valerie “Wally” Neuzil, who was Schiele’s mistress and posed for him on numerous occasions. The work suggests the artist saw “Wally” as a sensual woman, with full lips set in a subtle smirk and not-quite-blue eyes that demand the viewer’s attention. The painting is representative of Schiele’s style, as he often painted figures in a contorted and sexually suggestive manner.

Though Schiele ultimately married another woman in 1915 and ended his relationship with “Wally,” her beauty, as seen through the artist’s eyes, can be appreciated to this day.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Valerie “Wally” Neuzil, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Leopold Museum, Lea Bondi Jaray, Egon Schiele

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.