France to hand back artworks stolen by Nazis

France to hand back artworks stolen by Nazis
France is to return another three paintings stolen by the Nazis to the rightful owners. Photo: Simo0082/Flickr
France will on Tuesday return three paintings seized by the Nazis to their rightful owners, just the tip of an iceberg in a country where nearly 2,000 such artworks remain unclaimed.

All works of art identified as having been stolen by the Nazis are kept in French museums that are required to report them and put them on display in the hope that the previous owners, their heirs or assignees will spot and claim them.

Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti will return the three paintings – "Mountain Landscape" by Flemish artist Joos de Momper (1564-1635), a "Portrait of a woman" oil canvas dating from the 18th century and a "Madonna and child" painting – in an official ceremony.

"Mountain Landscape" belonged to Baron Cassel van Doorn, a non-Jewish Belgian banker who had homes in France and whose possessions were confiscated by the Nazis in December 1943.

The painting had been housed in a museum in the eastern city of Dijon.

The "Portrait of a woman" canvas was kept in one of the wings of the famed Louvre museum in Paris, and could be the copy of a portrait of an 18th century actress by French artist Louis Tocque.

The artwork belonged to art dealers from Berlin, and was auctioned off in January 1935 as part of the public sale of Jewish goods.

The last painting was seized in June 1944 in the southern French city of Cannes by the Nazis, and is claimed by the great-granddaughter of a banker who owned the artwork.

So far, France has only managed to return 70 pieces of art that were seized by the Nazis to their owners.


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