Galerie Harding

Galerie Harding


other names: Galerie Helene Silverio (1940–1949), Galerie Helene Harding (ab 1949)

Galerie Harding at Kärntnerstraße 16, 1st district of Vienna, was entered in the register of companies in 1928. The brothers Arnold Harding and Paul Harding and their half-brother Alfred Harding were partners in the company, which was organized as an offene Handelsgesellschaft (OHG – general partnership). Paul Harding left the company in 1929. The main focus was on exports, particularly to Czechoslovakia and the United Kingdom, but also overseas. The gallery had branches in the Bohemian spas Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) and Marienbad (Mariánské Lázně). In March 1938 only the branch in Marienbad was still operating.

After the annexation of Austria to the German Reich, the Harding brothers were persecuted by the Nazi regime on account of their Jewish origins. In May 1938 Alfred Harding resigned from the Vienna branch, and Helene Silverio, an "Aryan" employee, became a partner. The trade licence was also signed over to her. Alfred Harding fled to Czechoslovakia and was deported in 1942 from Prague to Majdanek, where he was murdered. At the end of November 1938 Arnold Harding, who was a Czech citizen, asked the Property Transaction Office for authorization to sell the business to Silverio. In reality the authorization referred only to the premises and furnishings. In the same month, the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts in Berlin denied Harding the right to conduct the business or to trade in cultural objects, but authorized him to give the remaining items in the gallery for sale "to a member of the Chamber recognized as an art dealer or auctioneer", whereupon Silverio took over the inventory. In January 1939 the chief executive of the Chamber in Vienna complained to the Property Transaction Office that it had been bypassed in the appointment of Silverio as Harding's successor and that Harding was still doing business. In July 1940 Silverio was entered in the register of companies as the sole proprietor, and the name Galerie Harding was changed to Galerie Helene Silverio. This transfer was in fact one of the few examples of a "fictitious Aryanization" or "disguised takeover" within the Viennese art and antiques business, since Silverio was already engaged to Arnold Harding at the time of the annexation. Eduard Nierscher, a former employee who knew of this relationship, blackmailed Harding and Silverio. His attempts to obtain title to the gallery failed, but he managed to acquire the branch in Marienbad without payment or consultation with the authorities in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia responsible for "Aryanization". Intimidated by Nierscher's threats, Silverio had concluded a partnership agreement with him in February 1939 by which she was to take over and sell pictures owned by Nierscher. In Nierscher's Volksgericht trial in 1948 Arnold Harding and Silverio, now married to Harding, stated that they had been threatened, blackmailed and denounced to the Gestapo by Nierscher. The court acquitted Nierscher for lack of clear evidence, however. No restitution proceedings were instigated with respect to the Vienna gallery or the branch in Marienbad. After the war, the gallery continued to operate, from 1949 under the name Galerie Helene Harding. In 1974 Helene Harding relinquished her trade licence.

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Publications about the person / institution

Radiobeitrag von Gabriele Anderl in der Ö1-Sendereihe "Dimensionen": "Im Tarnungswege" erworben. Die Arisierung der Wiener Galerie Harding. Sendetermin: 19.12.2018, URL: (13.6.2022).


GISA Servicestelle, Magistratsabteilung 63 der Stadt Wien, Firmenblatt und Generalkatasterblatt Galerie Harding; Galerie Helene Harding; Helene Silverio.

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA 22.001, Arnold Harding.
OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA 22.002, Alfred Harding.
OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, H. 2272, Galerie Harding.

WStLA, Handelsgericht Wien, A 43, Registerakten, A 43, 163 a, Galerie Harding.
WStLA, Volksgericht, A1, Vg Vr 1128/48, Eduard Nierscher