AGO Restitutes Jan van Kessell (ctd.)

January 22 2021

Image of AGO Restitutes Jan van Kessell (ctd.)

Picture: AGO

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Following up from a story I posted last November, the restitution of a painting by Jan van Kessell by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has attracted some criticism in Canada. The Globe and Mail have published some critical voices regarding the hasty actions and paperwork that accompanied the return of the painting to the heirs of the London based David family.

It seems the painting left Canada with a general permit supplied the AGO, a procedure usually used to fast-track loans for exhibitions and the like. For this reason, it has been suggested, the export was not overseen by federal officials who might have sought an independent opinion regarding the works restitution. The hasty export has been highlighted by some as exposing a gap in the Canadian system for the export of cultural property. There has also been some disagreement about exactly when the painting was sold by the David family during the 1930s.

The AGO have defended their actions by claiming the work was not sold but returned, adding that border officials were notified. Others have suggested that the haste of the return did not meet the standards expected of the museum.

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