Italian Police Seize Looted Painting

April 1 2021

Image of Italian Police Seize Looted Painting

Picture: artnews.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Italian police have seized a painting which was looted from its Jewish owners in France by the Nazis. The search for the picture of Lot and his Daughters was begun a few years ago by the family's heirs and led to a very interesting path.

According to the news story linked above:

A special unit dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage managed to establish the provenance of the piece, though much of its journey following the occupation remains a mystery. They determined that, in 2017, the painting was bought in France by an Italian antiques dealer, who lent it to Belgium for an exhibition. Afterward, the work was sold to a dealer from Milan, who subsequently exhibited it in 2019 in Maastricht in the Netherlands. It was during at this exhibition that a viewer, a Dutch antiquities expert, recognized it as a looted Poussin.

Following the trail they had recreated, the Italian police force finally tracked the work to the home of the antiques dealer near Padua, in northeastern Italy. The Poussin was seized and returned to its heirs.

It will be interesting to see if more details emerge about how its exact provenance. I'm not a Poussin expert, but it seems very unlikely that this is an accepted work of his. Equally, a quick google search hasn't revealed whether the painting was at TEFAF, but I'm sure more will emerge in due course.

Update - I'm grateful to @Mweilc on Twitter who's passed on information via. Beatrice Tanzi that the work is in fact a painting by Alessandro Turchi (1578-1649), not Poussin.

Furthermore, the painting was first recorded in the Palazzo Gherardini a San Fermetto in Verona in 1718, and passed through the hands of two different collectors in the nineteenth century. It's possible that it was known as a Poussin during this early period. It was then sold at Christie's Montecarlo in December 1988 where it passed into the hands of a dealer in Italy. It seems that there was a gap in provenance during the twentieth century. The information I have seen also confirms that the work was exhibited by a gallery at TEFAF in 2019.

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