Another restitution - but this time from WW1

October 13 2011

Image of Another restitution - but this time from WW1

Picture: Musée de la Chartreuse

A Fisherman's Daughter by Jules Breton (above) has been returned to the Musée de la Chartreuse in France after intervention by the United States. The picture had been stolen from the museum by a German soldier in 1918.

Valued at EUR 140,000, the picture was lost for decades, but turned up again in 2000 after it had been consigned to Sotheby's. It then appeared for sale at Maastricht in 2010, before finally being restituted after much legal wrangling.

I'm all in favour of restitution, especially of works so brutally stolen by the Nazis. But 1918 is a long time ago, and you have to wonder where we draw the line on restitution cases. What about a picture taken (and there's plenty of them) by Prussian forces from Paris in 1870? Or Napoleon's army? Or Genghis Kahn?

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