Painting by Thomas Couture looted by Nazis during World War II returned to French Jewish heirs

Mail Online | 1/8/2019 | Associated Press;Afp;Chris Dyer For Mailonline
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Germany has returned a painting looted by Nazis to the heirs of a French Jewish politician and resistance leader who was executed during World War II.

The portrait by 19th-century French painter, Thomas Couture, had been on display in a spectacular collection hoarded by Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Nazi-era art dealer.

Portrait - Seated - Young - Woman - Couture

Portrait of a Seated Young Woman by Couture, which belonged to resistance figure Georges Mandel, was discovered in late collector's art trove while German authorities were investigating a tax case in 2012.

German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters presented the work to relatives of Mandel - who was executed by French fascists near Paris in 1944 - in a ceremony at the Martin Gropius Bau museum in Berlin.

Bavarian - Collector - Collection - Father - Hildebrand

The reclusive Bavarian collector inherited much of a 1,500-piece collection from his father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, an art dealer who traded in works confiscated by the Nazis.

Many are thought to have been looted from their original Jewish owners, but provenance research has been slow and only a few have been restituted.

Experts - Years - Painting - Mandel - Hole

Experts determined two years ago that the painting had been looted from Mandel, relying on a small hole in the canvas as evidence of its heritage.

Mandel's lover had cited the hole above the seated woman's torso when she reported the painting stolen after the war.

Gruetters - Ceremony - Representative - Kunstmuseum - Bern

Gruetters was joined at the ceremony by a representative of the Kunstmuseum Bern, which inherited Gurlitt's collection when he died in 2014, and an envoy from the French embassy.

About 450 pieces from the collection by masters such as Monet, Gauguin, Renoir and Picasso have been on display in Bern, the western German city of Bonn, and in Berlin.

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