Bondi-Jaray, Lea

Lea Bondi-Jaray


12 December 1880 Mainz – 15 February 1969 London
until August 1936 Lea Bondi, then also Lea Jaray

In 1919, the Vienna gallery owner and art collector Lea Bondi became Prokurist (authorized signatory) of Kunsthandlung Würthle & Sohn Nachf. at Weihburggasse 9 in Vienna's 1st district. In 1922, after the company had been transformed into a general partnership (offene Handelsgesellschaft), she became a partner in the company. In November 1924 she was appointed managing director and in 1926 became sole proprietor. During this time she began to change the orientation of the company, until then an art dealership, to focus on contemporary art, which was also reflected in her position as member of the board of the Gesellschaft zur Förderung moderner Kunst founded in 1923. Works by young artists were not only sold in the gallery but also exhibited there, including sculptures by her future husband Alexander (Sándor) Jaray. After their marriage in 1936 she went by the name Lea Jaray or Lea Bondi-Jaray. Through her collaboration with major art dealers such as Alfred Flechtheim (Düsseldorf), Paul Cassirer (Berlin) and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (Paris), the gallery, in which like-minded collectors such as the Viennese industrialist Otto Brill had shares, developed into a popular meeting place for modern art in Vienna. Although these business ties weakened over the years, Bondi nevertheless managed to offer a diverse international exhibition programme.

Because of the discriminatory measures after the annexation of Austria to the Nazi German Reich, Lea Bondi-Jaray and her husband were obliged to emigrate in 1939 to London. Prior to this, the Salzburg art dealer Friedrich Welz had "Aryanized" the art dealership and renamed it Galerie Welz. Bondi-Jaray also owned artworks herself, which Welz took advantage of, forcing her to part with what is probably Egon Schiele's best-known work, Portrait of Walburg Neuzil (Wally). Little is known about other works from her collection or their whereabouts. Lea Jaray is known to have given a selection of drawings and some Klimt sheets in February 1939 to the Neue Galerie for sale. In London she remained true to her passion and joined St George's Gallery Ltd. managed by Arthur R. Howell, where she worked initially as a secretary. In 1943 she took over management of the gallery with Otto Brill, who had also emigrated to London, with a view to showing contemporary Austrian artists in London.

The Vienna art dealership was returned to her in 1948 and operated from 1949 again as Würthle und Sohn Nachf. It was managed by Luise Kremlacek, who had worked there since 1920 and had also been in charge of the gallery after it was taken over by Welz in 1939. Bondi-Jaray died in 1969 before the Schiele painting was restituted. After having been restituted by mistake in 1950 to the heirs of the Viennese dentist and art collector Heinrich Rieger, who sold it directly to the Österreichische Galerie, it was acquired by the Leopold Museum in an exchange. After a legal battle lasting twelve years, an out-of-court settlement was finally reached in July 2010 allowing the museum to keep the painting in return for payment of compensation to Leo Bondi-Jaray's heirs.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Anzeiger für den Buch-, Kunst- und Musikalienhandel 45 (1924), URL:"Lea%2BBondi"&ref=anno-search (15.3.2022).

Susanna Bichler, 1865–1995: Ein Überblick, in: Galerie Würthle. Jubiläumsausstellung, Wien 1995, 9–16.

James Clegg (ed.), Clegg's International Directory of the World's Book Trade, New York 1950, 247.

Georg Gaugusch, Wer einmal war. Das jüdische Großbürgertum Wiens 1800–1938, A–K (= Jahrbuch der Heraldisch-Genealogischen Gesellschaft "Adler" – Wien 16), Wien 2011, 1261.

Roswitha Juffinger, Die Galerie Welz, Wien – Friedrich Welz arisiert die Kunsthandlung Würthle & Sohn, Nachf., in: Roswitha Juffinger/Gerhard Plasser, Salzburger Landessammlungen 1939–1955, Salzburg 2007, 92–103.

Cherith Summers, St. George's Gallery, in: Brave New Visions. The Émigrés who transformed the British Art World, London 2019, 28–29, URL: (14.12.2021).

Thomas Trenkler, Stiftung Leopold zahlt 19 Millionen Dollar, in: Der Standard, 21.7.2010, URL: (7.3.2022).


Archiv der Österreichischen Galerie Belvedere Wien, Archiv der Neuen Galerie Wien, URL: (21.4.2022).

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA 9392, Lea Jaray.

Principal Probate Registry, COW633796, Lea Jaray.

The National Archives (TNA), HO 334/208/41405, Naturalisation Certificate: Lea Jaray.
The National Archives (TNA), HO 396/41/304, Aliens Department: Internees Index, Lea Jaray.

Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, Handschriftensammlung, NL Viktor Matejka, ZPH 830/4; ZPH 830/13.

WStLA, Handelsgericht Wien, A43 A Registerakten, A34, 88, Galerie Würthle.
WStLA, Historische Wiener Meldeunterlagen, Meldeauskunft Lea Bondi-Jaray.
WStLA, M.Abt. 119, A41, VEAV Zl. 321, 1. Bez., Lea Bondi-Jaray.