Henri Matisse painting looted by Nazis returns home
A painting by Henri Matisse has finally made its way home after disappearing 75 years ago.
Matisse’s “Femme Assise” (Seated Woman) belonged to Paul Rosenberg, a renowned art dealer who fled from the Nazis in 1940. The painting was one of many works of art stolen by the Nazis during this time.
Created in 1921, the painting depicts a woman in a floral blouse holding a fan in her lap. The painting was discovered in 2012 among an unbelievable collection of more than 1,000 works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
The collection, estimated at over $1 billion in value, was discovered by German authorities in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt. According to NPR, Gurlitt is the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, an art dealer who assisted Nazis in selling and trading stolen works. These works were classified as “degenerate” by the Nazis, allowing Hildebrand to amass the collection. Cornelius Gurlitt passed away at the age of 81 in 2014.
The works were confiscated from Gurlitt’s apartment in February 2012. Descendants of Rosenberg were reunited with the painting on May 15 following the efforts of London-based Art Recovery Group. A German court approved of releasing the painting to the heirs the same week. Rosenberg’s granddaughter, Anne Sinclair, remarked that the homecoming was emotional.
“First I feel deeply moved, of course, by the idea that this painting is back in the family 74 years after being looted, and deeply melancholic thinking that my grandfather is not able to see that,” she says.
This is among the first works in the Gurlitt collection to be returned to their original owners. Rosenberg spent many years trying to recover around 400 works from his collection, which included artwork by Picasso and Claude Monet. He died in 1959.
The New York Times reports that Germany has invested $14 million (13 million Euros) in provenance research and restituted 12,000 objects in the past decade, the majority of them being books.