Canadian Museum Returns Old Master Painting Looted by Nazis

Portrait of a Lady (1652) by the Dutch Old Master Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck
Photo via: Gracious Good

The Art Gallery of Hamilton has agreed to return a painting from its permanent collection to the heirs of the original owners, after confirming that the artwork belonged to a private collection looted by Nazi authorities in 1940, the Toronto Star reports.

The painting, Portrait of a Lady (1652) by Dutch Old Master Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck, will be returned to Sarah Solmssen, great granddaughter-in-law of Alma Bertha Salomonsohn, the wife of Arthur Salomonsohn, who assembled an important collection of art.

The museum received detailed documentation to support the claim by the Solmssen family, including the circumstances surrounding the loss of the work. The Art Gallery of Hamilton Volunteer Committee had purchased the painting at Sotheby’s New York in 1987, when its provenance as looted property had not yet been established.

Alma Salomonsohn, who changed her name to Solmssen after immigrating to the United States in the 1940s, began a thorough search for her husband’s stolen paintings, and her descendants continued her quest.

Louise Dompierre, president and CEO of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, declared: “In making our decision to return Portrait of a Lady we have been guided by international law […] and our own extensive research into the history of the painting’s ownership. It is a great pleasure to return the painting to those whom we believe, to the best of our knowledge, are its rightful owners.”

The public has the opportunity to see Portrait of a Lady before it is returned to the Solmssen family until April 2015, as part of the Art Gallery of Hamilton exhibition “Art for a Century: 100 for the 100th.

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