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Memorial plaque for James Simon

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Memorial plaque for James Simon


On June 16, 2006, a memorial plaque for James Simon based on a design by Johannes Grützke was unveiled on the building of the Baden-Württemberg State Representation at Tiergartenstrasse 15. © Joachim Brand


From 1886 to 1927, James Simon lived with his family in his father’s villa built by Carl Schwatlo at Tiergartenstrasse 15a, the “Via Sacra of Christian and Jewish wealth” (G. Tergit). The building was destroyed during the Second World War. Today, the State Representation of Baden-Wurttemberg stands on the property. A plaque commemorates James Simon. © bpk

The cousins James Simon (1851-1932) and Dr. Eduard Simon (1864-1929) were second-generation owners of the textile trading company Gebr. Simon, which was one of the largest trading houses in the German Empire. They belonged to the so-called “Kaiserjuden”, a group of assimilated upper middle-class Jews living in the Tiergarten district, who had achieved great prosperity in the Empire and struggled for recognition by the majority society through social commitment and patronage. Their passion was art, which they demonstrated by displaying their collections in their villas. Both were advised by Wilhelm von Bode and donated large sums to the Royal Museums. James Simon also donated numerous important works, including the bust of Nefertiti, and he financed excavation campaigns. In the 1920s, Gebr. Simon fell into economic difficulties, which meant that James Simon had to sell his villa in the Tiergarten district in 1927.


Portrait of James Simon at his study desk in front of works from his collection. The 97.30 × 86.00 cm oil painting was painted by Willi Döring in 1901. It is now in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Paintings). © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Volker-H. Schneider


In 1909 James Simon had the villa remodeled to accommodate his collection by Alfred Breslauer. A gallery (photo) was installed on the main floor and a skylight hall on the upper floor. The presentation had museum quality. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Zentralarchiv