Constable restitution sought in Switzerland

January 27 2016

Image of Constable restitution sought in Switzerland

Picture: Vos Iz Neias

The descendants of a Jewish collector have filed legal proceedings against a Swiss museum for the return of a work by John Constable, 'The Stour Valley' (above). Shamefully, the Museum of Fine Arts in the Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds has refused to return the work, even though they have been aware for a number of years that the work was seized in Paris in 1942 from Anna Jaffé, a Jew, and sold at auction in 1943 against her will.

The first time Jaffé's descendants tried to regain the work, in 2009, the museum said that under Swiss law there was no compulsion to return the work. If this is the case, then clearly the law in Switzerland needs to catch up with the 21st century - as do the moral standards of Swiss museums.

Update - a reader writes:

I suspect that the moral standards of Swiss museums are in line with the moral standards of Swiss banks in this area…

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