Smiles of a Summer Night

Probably as a result of seeing one too many late night broadcasts of The Train as an impressionable pre-teen, my attention is always diverted by the intersection of Nazi-looted art and famous composers (as you may have noticed). Well, the gilt Art Nouveau rotary hotline here at Soho the Dog HQ lit up this morning with the news that the Austrian government had returned Edvard Munch’s “Summer Night at the Beach” (seen above) to Marina Fistoulari-Mahler, Alma and Gustav Mahler’s granddaughter, and Alma’s sole heir (that must be a fun attic full of birthday cards and old party invitations). The decision was made by the government last November, but the actual transfer took place this week.

Another composer connection: the painting was a gift to Alma from her second husband, Walter Gropius, upon the birth of their daughter Manon—the “angel” whose death inspired Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto. In her autobiography, Alma wrote: “No painting has ever touched me in the way this one has.”

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