The founder of the Collection was Count Gustav-Adolf Wilhelm von Ingenheim (1789-1855), son of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II from a morganatic marriage to the court lady Julie von Voss. As a passionate art collector and patron, he maintained artistic salons in Berlin and Rome and had numerous contacts with important artists of his time, including Johann Erdmann Hummel, Aloys Hirt, Christian Daniel Rauch and Karl Friedrich Schinkel. He acquired most of his collection in Italy, as part of art purchases commissioned by his half-brother Friedrich Wilhelm III for the newly founded Prussian museums in Berlin. In Germany, Gustav-Adolf Count von Ingenheim displayed his personal collection at Palais Voss in Berlin, at Villa Ingenheim in Potsdam and later on at Palais Vitzthum in Dresden.
* King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia
* Count Gustav-Adolf von Ingenheim
* "Chess Game" by Johann Erdmann Hummel, Old National Gallery Berlin, Count Gustav-Adolf von Ingenheim as 3rd person to the right
As Prussian Privy Councillor and Cultural Commissioner as well as vivid art collector, Count Gust-Adolf von Ingenheim was involved in the creation of the first public museum in Berlin at the beginning of the 19th century, today's ”Altes Museum”, which laid the foundation for today's ”Berliner Museumsinsel”. Moreover, he also belonged to the circle of the so-called “German-Romans” (a famous group of German artists and literati who lived in Rome). In 1826 his life took a dramatic turn when he decided to convert to the Catholic faith. As a consequence, he was immediately banned from Berlin by the Prussian Court. Gustav-Adolf had sacrificed his income and his career due to his deep religious conviction. As a result, he did not have the means anymore to continue his passion. As far as we know to date, there was only one officially recorded exhibition of the Collection, namely in Palais Vitzthum in Dresden in 1826. From this point on the Collection was withdrawn from the public eye. This explains why the Ingenheim Collection, despite its exceptional quality, was only known to a few art historians and insiders for a long time.
In 1883 the collection was moved to the family residence Reisewitz Castle, (from 1936 Eichengrund) near Neisse, Grottkau District (today: Rysiowice, Poland). At the beginning of World War II it was in the possession of his grandsons, the brothers Harald, Manfred and Rudolph von Ingenheim, of whom Rudolph (the oldest) was murdered as part of the T4 Euthanasia Program by the National Socialists in 1940 and Manfred (the second oldest) was recognized as a persecutee of National Socialism due to his proximity to the Kreisauer Kreis. For his involvement in the resistance movement Manfred was sent to Nazi labour camps twice but managed to escape both times by bribery.
* Reisewitz Castle, Rysiowice Poland © Ralf Lotys
* Count Manfred von Ingenheim
As a result of flight, expulsion and looting, the collection was lost in Silesia at the end of the war in 1945. Some of the paintings, which were on loan to the Silesian Museum of Arts in Wroclaw at the time of the flight, were confiscated by the Polish state and are still there today. Two more paintings reappeared in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscou. However, the whereabouts of a large part of the paintings are still unknown.