Eberhard W. Kornfeld
23 September 1923 - 13 April 2023
It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Eberhard W. Kornfeld, the patron and eponym of our company. After a fulfilled life, he died peacefully in his sleep at home in his 100th year of life on the morning of 13 April 2023.
Ebi Kornfeld started working as a volunteer in 1945 and led the company since 1951. He was active in the business until now. We already miss his unerring eye for quality and his incomparable connoisseurship. For 65 years he was active as an auctioneer, edited over 200 auction catalogues and organised over 180 exhibitions in the gallery. He set new standards with the publication of today's valid catalogues raisonnés of the prints of Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall, Paul Gauguin, Alberto Giacometti, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso, among others.
With him, one of the major figures of the 20th/21st century art world has left the world forever. We will continue in his spirit.
The auction series takes again place parallel to the ART Basel fair in June. A total of just under 60 million has been realised. Alberto Giacometti's bronze "Buste de femme aux bras croisés (Francine Torrent)" was particularly contested, fetching almost 2.5 million at an estimate of CHF 1.5 million. Outstanding was Cuno Amiet's iconic painting "Mutter und Kind auf blumenübersäter Wiese" from 1906, which, after a bidding war with several participants, finally doubled the previous world record price for Amiet with a result of CHF 3,830,000. The two landscapes by Ferdinand Hodler, "Bachbett bei Champéry" (just under 3.3 million) and "Der Brienzersee von Breitlauenen aus" (a good CHF 2.9 million), both achieved high prices. A private collection paid just under CHF 2.4 million for the large-format painting "Die Blumenterrasse im Wannseegarten nach Norden". Fernand Léger's "Composition aux trois figures" from 1932 was acquired by an international collection for around 1.35 million. The record price achieved last year for a work by Käthe Kollwitz (just under CHF 900,000) was markedly exceeded this year: A new record of 1.3 million was set for the rare and important lithograph "Pietà" from 1903.
Volumes VI and VII of the critical catalogue raisonné of prints of the works of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner by Günther Gercken are published by the in-house publishing house. The long-standing project comes to a conclusion. Eberhard W. Kornfeld writes 8 essays on Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
The auction series are taking place again in 2021 because of Covid-19 in September. A total of CHF 72 million are realised on the two auction days. Thus, Kornfeld Gallery will once again achieve the highest auction result in 2021 ever in the entire DACH region - and also in its 157-year history. On the occasion of the special auction "Marc Chagall - Works on paper" with 40 works from the artist's estate, all lots are sold; for the first time in the history of the gallery, a so-called "white-glove sale" takes place.
A total of ten works exceeded the magic limit of CHF 1 million, and an impressive 120 lots were sold for more than CHF 100,000. The two top lots are the watercolour by Paul Cezanne "Pot à gingembre avec fruits et nappe" from 1888/90, which brought in a result of CHF 3.485 million at an estimate of CHF 1.25 million, and Robert Delaunay's "Nature morte portugaise" from 1916, which is worth just as much to one buyer. Sam Francis' "Green" from 1952 fetches CHF 2.335 million, Alberto Giacometti's bronze "Buste d'Homme (New York II)" CHF 1.99 million. Alexei von Jawlensky's early painting "Still Life with Yellow and White Pot" from 1908 fetched CHF 1.932 million. George Braque's Cubist collage "Verre et Bouteille (FOURRURES)" from 1913/1914 and Marc Chagall's painting "La fête au village" from 1980-1982 both fetch CHF 1.76 million each. Numerous auction records for artists are broken, such as Albrecht Dürer (CHF 955,000.-), Käthe Kollwitz (CHF 874,500.-) or Emma Kunz (CHF 317,000.-)
The gallery is celebrating 100 years of existence in Bern with a special exhibition - "100 works of art from around 1465 to 2019". Due to Covid-19, the auction has to be postponed for the first time since its foundation and takes place in September. 150 people take part in the auction under strict conditions, the auction is broadcasted worldwide in a live stream. The top lots are the painting by Marc Chagall "La Fête au village" from 1970-1975 and the very beautiful bronze by Alberto Giacometti "Nu debout sur socle cubique", both of which achieve a result of CHF 1.865 million, as well as the important painting "Figure 1 ou Ozon et Georges IV" by Le Corbusier, which achieves a result of CHF 1.175 million. Galerie Kornfeld thus achieves the highest auction result in the DACH-region in 2020
2019 is the auction of records: the woodcut in colors by Edvard Munch Two Human Beings - The Lonely Ones finds a new owner for CHF 2.545 million (including premium), the new international auction record for a colored woodcut by the artist. Stillleben: Tee und Schmelzbrötchen - auch Teegedeck by Albert Anker is hammered to a collector for a record price in this genre of CHF 3.425 million (inlcuding premium), tripling its estimate. Results of CHF 78,000 and CHF 114,000, respectively, set new records for Emma Kunz. The new Kornfeld homepage goes online. In the fall, an anniversary exhibition celebrating Teruko Yokoi’s 95th birthday is held.
Sold for a hammer price of CHF 3 million, Eduardo Chillida's iron sculpture Elogio del aire from 1956 holds the new “house record” for a sculpture. Albert Anker's beautiful oil painting Stillleben: Kaffee (1882) finds a new owner at a hammer price of CHF 1.6 million. A small, untitled gouache and collage from 1965 by Eva Hesse is sold for CHF 210,000. Eberhard W. Kornfeld celebrates his 95th birthday on 23 September.
Paul Gauguin’s charcoal drawing Tête d’une jeune femme tahitienne avec un deuxième portrait sur sa droite from 1881 - 1882 is sold for a hammer price of CHF 7.2 million, the international record for work on paper by this artist and also a new record for the auction house. Out of a total of 14 original works by Paul Klee, the 1933 watercolor on plaster Kleiner Blauteufel sells for the highest price at CHF 1.35 million. The 1981 Tabea III gouache by Franz Gertsch is auctioned for CHF 450,000, the international record for a work on paper by this artist. At the “Old Masters Prints and Drawings” auction, the hammer price for Rembrandt’s etching Darstellung im Tempel, in dunkler Manier is CHF 410,000.
With a hammer price of CHF 1.25 million Paul Klee's 1929 watercolor Vor dem Schnee becomes the auction leading lot. The color woodcut Manao Tupapao from 1893 - 1894 by Paul Gauguin sells for CHF 300,000 and is now part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. CHF 300,000 is paid for Gerhard Richter’s Parkett edition 1993 Grün – Blau – Rot, a very high price at the time. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death, Alberto Giacometti. Catalogue raisonné des estampes is published by Eberhard W. Kornfeld and the Fondation Giacometti, Paris. Christine Stauffer celebrates 50 years with the company.
Franz Marc’s tempera Pferde auf der Weide I from 1910 triggers a fierce bidding war and sells for a surprising hammer price of CHF 960,000. Käthe Kollwitz’s watercolor and brush drawing Selbstbildnis am Fenster from around 1900 is sold for CHF 300,000, the international record for work on paper by this artist. Pol Bury's 1961 kinetic relief sculpture Points blancs sur fond rouge goes to a new owner for CHF 130,000.
The company celebrates its 150th anniversary, and Eberhard W. Kornfeld writes its history since 1864. Egon Schiele’s watercolor and gouache Zwei Mädchen from 1911 goes for a hammer price of CHF 1.8 million. The special auction of 46 works of Marc Chagall brings a total of CHF 23 million. Rembrandt’s Jan Six etching is sold for CHF 480,000. The oil painting Ida (1992) by Georg Baselitz goes to a new owner for CHF 260,000.
The Mondschein I color woodcut from 1896 by Edvard Munch is auctioned for a hammer price of CHF 940,000. The big surprise is the small oil portrait Berthe Jacques from 1894 by Ferdinand Hodler, which is sold for CHF 2.6 million. The gallery shows an exhibition of works of Mario Botta. At the end of the year, the Bernese gallery owner Bernhard U. Bischoff joins the company as new partner and designated successor of Eberhard W. Kornfeld. Christoph Kunz becomes a new partner and the Chief Financial Officer. In 2013, Günther Gercken publishes the first two of a total of seven planned volumes of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Kritisches Werkverzeichnis der Druckgraphik.
The hammer price of CHF 2.4 million for Alberto Giacometti’s Diego assis - Homme à mi-corps from 1965 is a new house record for a bronze by this artist. The complete set of Picasso's Suite Vollard with wide margins (1930 - 1937) earns CHF 2.3 million, Emil Nolde's 1908 oil painting Haus im Schnee in Cospeda goes for a hammer price of CHF 1.5 million.
Vue de Montana by Ferdinand Hodler is sold for a hammer price of CHF 4 million. The hammer falls at CHF 900,000 for Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s 1919 color woodcut Junkerboden (with a woodcut on the verso: Frau in der Nacht). Eberhard W. Kornfeld celebrates 60 years as active auctioneer.
At the 250th auction, Paul Gaugin’s small oil painting from 1896 Scène tahitienne is sold for a hammer price of CHF 5.5 million. The hammer price of CHF 1.65 million for Cuno Amiet's 1908 oil painting Winterlandschaft holds the international record for this artist to this day. The 1955 oil painting Deep blue and black by Sam Francis is auctioned at CHF 2.7 million, the highest price for a contemporary artwork sold by the auction house.
El Lissitzky’s gouache and collage Proun 333 H from 1923-1924 earns a sensational hammer price of CHF 540,000 and Vue d’Honfleur, le soir of 1912 by Félix Vallotton is auctioned for CHF 800,000. With a hammer price of CHF 1.3 million, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s color woodcut Wettertannen (1919) achieves the international record for a graphic artwork by this artist. Rembrandt's etching Der Omval is sold for CHF 460,000. Näherin beim Fenster by Vincent van Gogh finds a buyer at CHF 1,550,000 and the plaster sculpture by Alberto Giacometti Homme et Femme - Le Couple couché - Composition quintuples its estimate of CHF 400,00 and is auctioned CHF 2.1 million.
Friede, an oil painting by Augusto Giacometti (1915) is sold for CHF 1.3 million, an international record for this artist. The hammer price of CHF 6.1 million for the oil painting La Terrasse (1948/49) by Georges Braque is a new record for the auction house. The 1984 oil painting Le Songe receives the highest bid of CHF 2.45 million at the special auction Marc Chagall – Indivision Ida Chagall of 53 works by the artist. A very fine copy of Dürer’s copperplate print Adam and Eve is auctioned for CHF 490,000.
Ernst Ludwig Kirschner's colored crayon drawing Zwei Frauen, in einem Variété in Dresden (1907-1908) is sold for CHF 880,000, an international record for a work on paper by this artist. Emil Nolde’s 1912 oil painting Priesterinnen is auctioned for CHF 2.1 million. To celebrate Eberhard W. Kornfeld’s 80th birthday a 545-page Festschrift is published by Christine E. Stauffer. It contains 49 essays by friends of the auction house, including many museum curators with whom the honoree has been enjoying a scholarly exchange for many years.
Paul Klee's important watercolor Die kleine J. reisefertig (1928) is auctioned for CHF 1.15 million and Picasso’s small 1911 oil painting Verre de Pernod et Tasse is sold for a hammer price of CHF 1.6 million. In 2001, Eberhard W. Kornfeld celebrates 50 years as auctioneer. The two-volume Werkverzeichnis der Graphik von Käthe Kollwitz by Alexandra von dem Knesebeck is published in 2002.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s oil painting Zwei Akte am Strand von Staberhuk auf Fehmarn (1913) is the first to break through the three million mark in 1998. The following year, Nationalgalerie Berlin acquires the 1926 oil painting Christus und die Sünderin by Emil Nolde for an international record price of CHF 3.1 million. Eberhard W. Kornfeld's Textilarbeiten nach Entwürfen von E.L. Kirchner der Davoser Jahre. Werkverzeichnis and Christine Stauffer’s catalogue raisonné Giovanni Giacometti. Das graphische Werk are published.
Important works from the collection of Arthur Stoll are auctioned, including Albert Anker’s 1872 painting Der Schulspaziergang, which is sold for the high price of CHF 800,000. Ferdinand Hodler’s 1911 Heilige Stunde is sold for CHF 2.5 million, the international auction record for this artist. Max Beckmann’s oil painting Quappi auf Blau mit Butchy (1943) is auctioned for CHF 2.05 million. The gallery shows an exhibition of woodcuts by Franz Gertsch, the first of many exhibitions of the graphic art of this artist.
At an hammer price of CHF 3 million, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's oil painting Das Boskett (1911) achives a new international record price for this artist. Alberto Giacometti’s 1947 bronze Le Nez is sold for CHF 1.65 million. The important copperplate print Der grosse Liebesgarten of Meister E.S. from the collection of Otto Schäfer is sold for a record price of CHF 400,000. The retrospective Sam Francis – Forty Years of Friendship includes 80 works and reflects the artist's close friendship with Eberhard W. Kornfeld.
The 125th anniversary of the company is celebrated in 1989. Juan Gris’s 1916 painting Carafe et Bolis auctioned for CHF 2.35 million. The total auction estimate is exceeded by 47%. The hammer for Max Beckmann’s 1929 oil painting Der Wels only falls at CHF 5.3 million, making this the international record price for the work of this artist. Paul Gauguin. Catalogue raisonné of his Prints by Elizabeth Mongan, Eberhard W. Kornfeld and Harold Joachim is published in 1988. James Hofmaier publishes Max Beckmann. Catalogue raisonné of his Prints in 1990.
Lyonel Feininger's oil paining Gelmeroda II (1913), today at the National Gallery of Scotland, sells for CHF 365,000. The special auction of works from the collection of Ingrid Lindbäck Langaard containing 83 prints and drawings of Edvard Munch is sold out completely. Fillette au Chapeau de Paille by Pierre Auguste Renoir is auctioned for CHF 1.47 million. Two special auctions including the collection of Hans Bolliger are dedicated to the work of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. A very strong impression of Dürer's copperplate print Melancholie goes to a new owner for CHF 450,000. Jean Tinguely installs Inferno – ein kleiner Anfang in the Haller pavilion. The first volume of Picasso. Peintre-Graveur, the authoritative catalogue raisonné of the graphic works of Pablo Picasso that was started by Bernhard Geiser and finished by Brigitte Baer is published in 1986. All seven volumes are published by 1996.
The 175th auction in 1981 with a special catalogue of 175 selected works is the first to be held at Villa Thurmau at Laupenstrasse 41. The«Haller pavilion» is renovated and now has a doirect access to the Villa. The Villa is called “Thurmau” after the medieval watch tower called “Lombachturm” that used to be located in the neighborhood.
The Kunstmuseum Bern acquires Alberto Giacometti’s 1956 Femme de Venise I for CHF 200,000, with the media complaining that this is much too expensive for a bronze sculpture. The company is the first auction house to dedicate a sale exclusively to Swiss art. A wash drawing by Claude Gelée from around 1642 is sold for CHF 330,000. Jürg Kunz takes over as Chief Financial Officer and soon joins the company’s Management Board. The Catalogue raisonné de l'Œuvre gravé et lithographié de Paul Signac by Eberhard W. Kornfeld and Peter A. Wick is published. Erhard and Barbara Göpel publish the two-volume catalogue raisonné Max Beckmann. Katalog der Gemälde. The gallery shows works by Niki de Saint Phalle. Eberhard W. Kornfeld publishes the pathbreaking monograph Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Dresden-Berlin-Davos). A special catalogue with the latest research findings about watermarks and the paper that was used is published for the exhibition and auction 140 Radierungen von Rembrandt .
At the 150th auction dedicated to the collection of Clarence and Jane Franklin, Edvard Munch's Madonna is sold for a new record price of CHF 350,000. Following special auctions of graphic art by Picasso in 1964 (Oskar Stern collection) and 1969 (Göran Bergengren collection), another important Picasso collection, the Georges Bloch collection is sold. An impression of the Repas frugal before the steel-facing is sold for CHF 465,000.
ART Basel takes place for the first time from 11 to 16 June 1970. Before the art fair, ART founders Trudi Bruckner, Balz Hilt and Ernst Beyeler asked Eberhard W. Kornfeld whether the fair could be held at the same time as his auctions as the auctions already brought many international collectors to Switzerland.
A modern auction room seating up to 300 participants designed by Fritz Haller is built in the garden of Villa Villette. At the special auction of the Arthur Stoll collection, the oil painting L’Arbre tordu painted by Paul Cézanne between 1882 and 1885 was the first artwork to break through the one million mark, with a hammer price of CHF 1.48 million, an event that made the front page of the New York Times. The complete set Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol is sold for CHF 22,000. Marc Chagall. Das Verzeichnis der Kupferstiche, Radierungen und Holzschnitte by Eberhard W. Kornfeld is published. The legendary Saint Barbara shooting by Jean Tinguely and Bernhard Luginbühl takes place in the park. The police are called because of the roar of the “art cannons”. During the state visit to Bern by the President of Germany Gustav Heinemann, his wife Hilda visits the gallery.
Edvard Munch’s 1910 oil painting Oslofjord/Nordstrand is auctioned for CHF 420,000. Zenko Bruck’s Daumier collection, Lise Gujer’s Kirchner collection and parts of the Oskar Reinhart collection are auctioned. Christine Stauffer joins the company in 1967 and soon becomes a member of the Management Board. From 1957 to 1968, the gallery puts on a total of eight solo exhibitions of works by Sam Francis.
The 100th anniversary of the company is celebrated in 1964. The portfolio One Cent Life, the most important pop art publication ever, is published by Walasse Ting and Eberhard W. Kornfeld. Max Beckmann's oil painting Adam und Eva (1917) is bought for the Nationalgalerie Berlin for CHF 54,000. Marlies Kornfeld’s Otto Tschumi. Katalog der Graphik 1923-1970 is published in 1972, followed in 1988 by Albert Müller. Das graphische Werk.
To celebrate the 100th auction, the archives and collections of J.B. Neumann, Gustave Pellet and Robert Schnell are auctioned. Toulouse-Lautrec's complete set Elles is sold at CHF 67,000. Rembrandt's print Christus dem Volke vorgestellt from the collection of Alfred Stroelin achieves a new record price at CHF 132,000. Paul Klee. Verzeichnis des graphischen Werkes, prepared by Eberhard W. Kornfeld is published (2nd edition published in 2005). The gallery puts on exhibitions of the works of Sam Francis, Alfred Jensen and Joan Mitchell.
The extremely rare 1631 landscape etching by Hercules Seghers Die Stadt mit vier Türmen is auctioned for CHF 128,000, an international record price. Hans Bolliger, who joined the company in 1955 and soon became a member of the Management Board, prepares six pathbreaking special auction catalogues from 1957 to 1977 Dokumentationsbibliothek zur Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. He also prepares a catalogue raisonné of the graphic art of Hans Arp. The gallery opens important exhibitions of works by Alberto Giacometti, Marc Chagall and Tériade in the presence of the artists.
Important collections of old and modern graphic art are auctioned, including the collections of Henri Rouart, Maurice Loncle, Werner Weisbach and Atherton Curtis. Rembrandt's etchings Portrait Jan Six and Die drei Kreuze reach record prices at CHF 34,000 and CHF 83,000 respectively. The 1888 drawing La Crau. Weite Sicht von einem erhöhten Standort auf die Ebene in der Gegend von Montmajour by Vincent van Gogh is acquired for a new collection at CHF 45,000.
After the sudden death of August Klipstein on 4 April, Eberhard W. Kornfeld takes over as the head of the auction house with the support of the current team, in particular Frida Schuh, long-standing assistant to August Klipstein. The first auction by Eberhard W. Kornfeld is held on 11 June where works from Carl Escher's collection are sold, among others. The color lithograph L’Anglais au Moulin-Rouge by Toulouse-Lautrec becomes the most expensive print. Estimated at CHF 1,200, it is sold at CHF 2,100.
The company moves to Villa Villette at Laupenstrasse 49 where an auction room is set up on the ground floor. Important collections of old and modern graphic art are auctioned. Eberhard W. Kornfeld joins the company as a volunteer in January 1945 and acquires an interest in the company in 1948.
The outbreak of war abruptly reduces auction activity. The company domicile is moved to smaller rooms at Thunstrasse 7.
Now the sole owner, August Klipstein starts a new series of auctions in bigger rooms at Amthausgasse 16. Important collections of old and modern graphic art are auctioned, including the collections of Hans Steinwachs and Heinrich Stinnes. In 1933 an exhibition of prints and drawings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is presented in parallel to the exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bern. The art dealership opens exhibitions of works by Käthe Kollwitz in Bern and New York.
Richard Gutekunst retires from professional life. The new partner is the American collector Carl Schniewind, but he leaves the company again after a short time. The world of art dealing is affected by the global economic crisis.
Gutekunst und Klipstein opens the company at Hotelgasse 8 in Bern. The art dealership for old prints and Helvetica flourishes. The gallery expands its program with exhibitions of Hodler and the modern graphic art of Bonnard, Degas, Matisse, Munch, Picasso, Pissarro, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Vuillard and others.
Richard Gutekunst and Dr. phil. August Klipstein meet while working for the auction house F.A.C. Prestel in Frankfurt am Main. Because of their experiences during the war, they decide to start a new business in Switzerland.
Because of the outbreak of war, Richard Gutekunst cannot return to London. His important collection of graphic art is seized as “enemy property” and put up in a forced sale in 1920.
Dürer's preliminary drawing for the 1504 copperplate print Adam und Eva from the Lanna collection sells for an unbelievable record price of 65,000 gold marks. This was 250 times the annual salary of a miner – and would be around CHF 18.5 million in today's terms. H.G. Gutekunst retires from professional life, and Wilhelm A. Gaiser takes over the business. When Wilhelm A. Gaiser dies tragically in a traffic accident in 1915, the art dealership and auction house in Stuttgart are closed.
After training at the graphic art dealership of his brother Otto (1866-1947) in London and working for his father in Stuttgart for a short time, Richard Gutekunst (1870-1961) opens his own graphic art dealership in London.
H. G. Gutekunst moves his company and his family to Olgastrasse 1B in Stuttgart. This remains the residence and place of business until 1918. He builds his company to become the leading dealership in Old Master drawings and prints serves customers from all over the world.
A first series of auctions Collection of Copperplate Prints, Etchings, Woodcuts, etc. of an Italian Art Lover. are held in a room at the Stuttgart Königsbau. Important collections of old prints and drawings are sold during the next years.
After training at Goupil & Co in Paris and London, Heinrich Gottlob Gutekunst (1832-1914) open an art dealership for old prints and drawings at Kanzleistrasse 36 in his home town of Stuttgart. He also publishes reproductions of graphic art.