The British Library has said they will return a Renaissance book panel which was sold from a Munich collection under duress, The Art Newspaper reports. The oil painting on the panel, named the Biccherna panel after the eponymous city’s treasury, was made to bind a set of accounts in 1488 and is attributed to Guidoccio Cozzarelli. The UK Spoliation Advisory Panel led the charge for the work’s return.
The piece’s prewar owners are the shareholders of the A.S. Drey Gallery based in Munich, according to research by The Art Newspaper. As a part of a forced sale in 1936, the work traded hands for the equivalent of £228 ($390). The work was sold in 1942 by Arthur Bendir to Henry Davis at Sotheby’s in London. Davis donated the Sienese painting to the British Library in 1968, where it is now a part of the Davis Collection of around 890 bindings.
The UK Spoliation Advisory Panel determined that there is “a strong moral case in the claimants’ favor”, and it therefore recommended restitution. A library spokesman commented that the institution is negotiating to purchase the painting “so that the Davis collection of bookbindings can remain intact and to ensure that the Biccherna panel will continue to be freely accessible to researchers.” According to an estimation by the Jewish Chronicle, the painting is valued at £140,000 ($239,473), though a final price has not yet been agreed upon.
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