Mealy’s backtracks on ‘Hitler watercolour’

Mealy’s withdraws catalogue description ‘attributed to Adolf Hitler’ citing ‘difficulties associated with accurately attributing his work’

Lot 534 in Mealy’s sale is catalogued as a watercolour “attributed to Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)” with an estimate of €1,000-€1,500 – the attribution has now been withdrawn

Lot 534 in Mealy’s sale is catalogued as a watercolour “attributed to Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)” with an estimate of €1,000-€1,500 – the attribution has now been withdrawn


Mealy’s has amended its description of a painting “attributed to Adolf Hitler” ahead of next week’s fine art auction. Lot 534 in Tuesday’s sale is catalogued as a watercolour “attributed to Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)” with an estimate of €1,000-€1,500.

Mealy’s announced the attribution earlier this month having researched the painting, and looked at other known examples of surviving works by Hitler. The auctioneers acknowledged that the attribution was controversial and invited comments from “expert opinion”.

The painting depicts a stretch of the Suffolk coastline in England, a view of Walberswick from Southwold, which adds to its mystique. The attribution, if proven, would suggest that Hitler had visited England, a contention doubted by most historians.

Mealy’s has now withdrawn the formal attribution to Hitler “in light of the notorious difficulties associated with accurately attributing his work”, and said the identity of the artist remains a mystery.

The painting was found in a job lot at an auction in England last year by a Dundalk collector. When he removed the frame to clean the glass he discovered the signature “A.H.” which had been obscured.

Hitler did work as an artist in Vienna during the early 20th century and is believed to have sold many paintings. But his artistic career ended following his rejection for a place in the city’s art school.

The theory that Hitler could have visited England during this time is based on claims made by his Irish in-law. Hitler had a half-brother Alois Hitler, a waiter at Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel who married Dubliner Bridget Dowling and the couple moved to Liverpool. In her memoirs, Bridget Hitler claimed that during a five-month period, between 1911 and 1912, Adolf Hitler spent five months visiting the couple in England before he returned to Germany and infamy. Her claim is widely disputed by historians. Paintings attributed to Hitler occasionally turn up at auction but most of the big international auction houses do not assess, value or sell his work.

The auction also includes a more conventional selection of items including period furniture, Chinese ceramics, silver, jewellery, rugs and pictures. An Irish silver Freedom Box made by Joseph Johns in Limerick, circa 1740, and presented by the Corporation of the City of Limerick to Lt Col Henry Tenant, May 11th, 1762 and engraved with the city’s crest of arms, is estimated at €10,000-€15,000.

Bargain-hunters might like 22 Waterford Crystal, John Rocha-designed, glasses (12 Champagne flutes and 10 whiskey tumblers), perfect as either gifts or to perk up the Christmas dining table. The estimate for the lot is just €150-€200.

Heaney first editions
A collection of first editions of books by the late poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney is being sold on behalf of a private collector. There are 100 lots with a combined estimate of €20,000-€30,000. Highlights include a signed copy of the first US edition of Death of a Naturalist estimated at €1,200-€1,800.

Mealy’s Winter Fine Art And Decorative Art Sale begins at 10.30am in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, on Tuesday, December 3rd. Viewing from noon tomorrow.

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