Wednesday 28 June at 7pm (CET); 6pm (BST) 

for a Zoom lecture delivered by 

Federica De Giambattista on the topic of 

A first reconstruction of the eclectic art collection of the archaeologist and art dealer Ludwig Pollak (1868-1943). From ancient Greek and Roman sculptures to Old Masters drawings of the Renaissance and Baroque.

Unknown photographer, Ludwig Pollak’s portrait-photo from the 70th anniversary album of Prof. Eugen Bormann, Wien, University of Wien, Ancient History, Papyrology and Epigraphy Department Collection, n. inv. F0002.

Ludwig Pollak (Prague 1868-Auschwitz 1943), born in Prague and Roman by adoption, was a preeminent archaeologist, a fine connoisseur and an art dealer between the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century. His mother’s family, descendent from Sephardic Jews living in Prague for centuries, had a preeminent role in Ludwig’s cultural and religious education so that, at the end of his studies, he became a professional  skilled in many activities related to a deep and passionate knowledge of works of art belonging  to different periods, from the Greek and Roman antiquity until the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and beyond. Thanks to his uncommon connoisseurship Ludwig Pollak was entrusted to write several catalogues of prestigious private collections – the Nelidow (1903) and Stroganoff (1912) collections above all- and to buy and sell different kind of works of art to some of the richest collectors and most influential museums’ directors of his time, such as J. P. Morgan and Wilhelm Bode. At the same time Pollak collected several precious objects for his private collection, including ancient and medieval sculptures, terracotta bozzetti of the greatest Italian masters of the Baroque and hundreds of Old Masters drawings, still circulating among today’s art market.

Ludwig Pollak was a very passionate collector of drawings of the Baroque era and he shared his enthusiasm in this field with the young Denis Mahon, with whom he had an intense correspondence between 1936 and 1937. The deep experience and artistic knowledge of the archaeologist were not able to save him and his family from the Nazi-fascist deportation from the Rome ghetto on 16th October 1943. A part of the precious objects of his private collection saved from the last auctions’ sales were donated to the Municipality of Rome in 1951 and 1958 by the last Pollak’s heir Margarete Süssmann Nicod, his second wife’s sister.

Dosso Dossi (attr.), Saint John the Baptist, drawing, brown ink, brown wash, black chalk and white gouache on cream antique laid paper prepared with a pink wash, XVI c., Cambridge (MA), Harvard University, Fogg Art Museum, n. inv. 1983.129, photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

SPEAKER’S BIOGRAPHY: Federica De Giambattista is assistant professor in History of Medieval Art with a PhD in History of Art at SARAS Department of Sapienza University in Rome, thanks to the research project: Ludwig Pollak and the works of art of the Middle Age. The interests and studies of a protagonist of the art market and collecting in post-unification Rome. 

She combines the interest in the medieval period with the study of the dynamics of the art market and collecting in Rome from the end of the nineteenth century until the first four decades of the last century. Federica is a TIAMSA-The International Art Market Studies Association member since September 2018.

In 2018 she was co-curator of the exhibition: Litografia Bulla. A 200-years Journey between Art and Technique at the Central Institute for Graphics in Rome and speaker at the round table: Crono-Logiche: a reinterpretation of the 60s in Italy, at the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Rome. Between 2020 and 2022 she had been among the speakers of the conferences: The Jews in Rome in the age of Raphael; Photography and its uses in the Art Market (1880-1939). Protagonists, Narratives, Collections; Jewish Dealers and the European Art Market, 1850-1930 and In Corso d’opera 5. Giornate di studio dei dottorandi di ricerca in Storia dell’Arte della Sapienza Università di Roma. She published papers in “Bollettino dei Musei Comunali di Roma”, “Arte Lombarda”, “Studi di Memofonte” “Arte medievale” and “Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen”, as well as some catalogue entries for the exhibition Medieval Rome. The lost face of the city (October 2022-April 2023) hold at Museo di Roma in Palazzo Braschi. Moreover she has recently been the author of the following dictionary entries for the Bloomsbury Art Markets, the first international publication dedicated to the protagonists of the European and North American art market: Age d’or, Appia Antica, Arco d’Alibert, Bottega di Corrente, Galleria Pesaro, Galleria Russo, Giò Marconi ’65, il Cavallino, La Nuova Pesa, M. F. Toninelli Art Moderne, Selecta.


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