Wooster, Mary

Mary Wooster

Porträt, Schwarzweiß-Foto

23 May 1886 Paris – 8 December 1978 Paris

née Marie von Springer; also Marie Fould-Springer

The only daughter of Gustav Freiherr von Springer and his wife Helene, Marie von Springer was born in Paris in 1886. Her first husband was Eugène Fould, a grandson of the French finance minister Achille Fould. After his death, she married Frank Wooster in January 1933, and became a British citizen as Mary Wooster. In Vienna, the couple lived in the so-called Springer-Schlössl, a villa which Mary had inherited from her father located at Tivoligasse 73, in Vienna's 12th district. Already at the end of 1937, Mary went to Paris with her husband and later fled further to Canada, as she was considered a Jew in the Nazi diction. After the "Anschluss" of Austria to the National Socialist German Reich, their villa served to house the Vienna "Gauschule" (Regional School) for political functionaries. On 9 September 1939, the Property Transaction Office appointed the lawyer Franz Eberharter as trustee over Mary Wooster's assets, which included the property on Tivoligasse along with other real estate. The property on Tivoligasse housed her art collection of more than 100 paintings, including several works by August von Pettenkofen and Rudolf von Alt. The Central Office for the Protection of Monuments took a total of 30 paintings into its custody without any seizure or confiscation. During the war, these were stored in the salt mine at Altaussee.

After 1945, Mary Wooster's private secretary Hans Mailath-Pokorny, who had already been in contact with the authorities during the Nazi period, approached the Federal Monuments Authority in search of the whereabouts of the art collection. The Authority expressed no reservations about the return of the paintings stored in Altaussee. Mary Wooster then applied for permission to export them, which she received with the exception of three paintings. Johann Gualbert Raffalt's Shepherd Boy was subsequently transferred to the Austrian Gallery Belvedere, two works by Rudolf von Alt, the watercolour Salzburg and the pencil drawing Donaukanal mit alter Schlagbrücke were finally released for export in 1949 after the owner objected. She sold her property on Tivoligasse, which had been restituted to her, "with all legal and natural accessories" to the Verein Wiener Volksheime for 3.2 million schillings in 1953. Today, the Karl von Vogelsang Institute and the Political Academy of the ÖVP are located on the site. In 1973, Mary Wooster donated the Alt watercolour Salzburg to the Albertina Graphic Collection, where it still is today. On 27 October 1999, the Art Restitution Advisory Board recommended that the Shepherd Boy from the Austrian Gallery be handed over to Mary Wooster's heirs, and restitution took place in 2010. With regard to the Alt watercolour Salzburg, however, the Advisory Board determined that no prerequisite for restitution under the Art Restitution Act was met.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Beiratsbeschluss Marie Wooster, 27.10.1999, URL: provenienzforschung.gv.at/beiratsbeschluesse/Wooster_Marie_1999-10-27.pdf (9.2.2023).

Sophie Lillie, Was einmal war. Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens, Wien 2003, 1347–1350.


BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialien, K. 50/2, PM Marie Wooster; Sicherstellungskartei Marie Wooster.

KHM, Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente, 51/SAM/1984, 57/SAM/1988.

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, Hilfsfonds, Abgeltungsfonds 7.632, Mary Wooster.

WStLA, Historische Wiener Meldeunterlagen, Meldeauskunft Marie Wooster.
WStLA, LG für Zivilrechtssachen Wien, Rückstellungskommission, 5 RK 48/55, Mary Wooster.