Gussenbauer, Hildegard

Hildegard Gussenbauer


17 February 1891 Prague – 25 August 1953 Vienna

Hildegard Gussenbauer, daughter of the surgeon Carl Ignatz Gussenbauer, was an art broker, consultant and dealer in Vienna. After her father was appointed head of the 2nd Surgical University Clinic in 1894 as the successor to Theodor Billroth, the family moved from Prague to Vienna. Gussenbauer had private tuition at home until she went to secondary school. She later attended drawing and modelling courses in the studio of Emma Schlangenhausen, had lessons in applied art with the architect Othmar Leixner von Grünberg and completed training as a lacemaking teacher. Her knowledge of art history was expanded through visits to museums in various European countries. She was a member of the Verein der Freunde Ostasiatischer Kunst und Kultur in Wien (Association of Friends of East Asian Art and Culture in Vienna). In 1930 she travelled to the USA. She worked after 1922 as an "art consultant for home decor", dealing in this function with interior furnishing, designs and consultancy and mediating in interior design questions. She also painted furniture, checked valuations and the authenticity of artworks, liquidated estates and established contacts between private collectors and museums. She never married but must have been financially secure on account of her family, because – as she herself stated – the revenue from her activities did not cover her living expenses. At the same time, she emphasized the importance for her work of her wide-ranging contacts in numerous countries. She was a licensed art dealer from mid-1939, working exclusively from her apartment at Skodagasse 9 in Vienna's 8th district and then, from mid-1941, Jacquingasse 31 in the 3rd district. She also used the latter apartment for exhibitions. She had a large house and property in the country (probably in Oberverlach, Carinthia). She was a member of the designer, art publisher and art dealer section of the Reichskammer der bildenden Künste (Reich Chamber of Fine Arts) but was not obliged to join the Reichsschrifttumskammer (Reich Literature Chamber) on account of her minimal work as a writer. In the later phase of the war she claimed to have been involved above all with furnishing houses for bombed-out and young families in both the ruined cities and remote mountain regions throughout the entire Reich, where she also acquired interior furnishing items and folk art. In 1940 she travelled to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. She did not leave the Roman Catholic church during the Nazi era but held a NSDAP membership card for the Breitenfeld section. She repeatedly confirmed her loyalty to the regime with reference to her efforts to preserve German culture. She belonged to the Deutscher Schulverein Südmark and the Deutsch-Österreichischer Alpenverein and owned a gun licence. She also tried to sell artworks for the "Sonderauftrag Linz". Her name appears in connection with The Art of Painting by Vermeer: she was in contact with Karl Haberstock and in March and April 1939 unsuccessfully offered to broker its sale. The Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology, now Weltmuseum Wien) also acquired some objects from Gussenbauer during the Nazi era, whose provenance could not be determined. Her business licence for the art trade expired in 1951, two years before her death.

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Publications about the person / institution

Susanne Hehenberger/Monika Löscher (Hg.), Die verkaufte Malkunst. Jan Vermeers Gemälde im 20. Jahrhundert (= Schriftenreihe der Kommission für Provenienzforschung 4), Wien-Köln-Weimar 2013, URL:


Berufsvereinigung der bildenden Künstler Österreichs (Wien, Schloss Schönbrunn), Archiv, Unterlagen zu Hildegard Gussenbauer.

WStLA, Historische Meldeunterlagen, Meldeauskunft Hildegard Gussenbauer.