Last month, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) curator Anna Marley picked up on the story of a Nazi-looted American painting discovered in the collection of the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, New York. That artwork will be returned by the FBI to heirs of the Mosse family, Jewish publishers and art collectors, after it was confiscated in Nazi Germany, then sold in New York, eight decades ago. But the painting, titled 'Winter' and by American artist Gari Melchers, looked strikingly similar to a star work hanging in PAFA's gallery in Philadelphia, Melchers's 'Skaters.'
Marley notes that PAFA's 'Skaters,' a three-foot oil, has a known provenance and exhibition history. Acquired in 1901 for PAFA, the work was a favorite of the Paris Salons, perhaps sparking the artist to capitalize on its popularlity and create pastel versions (and etchings) as seen (formerly) in the Arkell Museum and also in the Melchers Home and Studio collection in Virginia.
“He did do several versions,” corroborated Joanna Catron, assistant director and curator of the Gari Melchers Home and Studio in Falmouth, Va. “It was so successful.”