The first painting to be confirmed, as stolen by the Nazis, has emerged from the Gurlitt hoard. It is a portrait by the Post Impressionist painter Henri Matisse. The investigating body appointed by the German government to assess the hoard have now established that the painting belongs to the family of Paul Rosenberg a prominent Parisian, Jewish, art dealer, who fled to London and than New York during the war.
The canvas titled Femme Assise (Seated Woman) was discovered in the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, who died last month aged 81. It is one of more than 1,500 works of art held in a secret warehouse which is being investigated.
“Even though it could not be documented with absolute certainty how the work came into Hildebrand Gurlitt’s possession, the task force has concluded that the work is Nazi loot and was taken from its rightful owner Paul Rosenberg,” Ingeborg Bergreen-Merkel, the head of the task force, released in a public statement.
Hildebrand Gurlitt,the father of Cornelius was an adviser to Adolf Hitler. He was part of a team ordered to assess seized art from Jewish families as well as work taken from German Museums deemed “degenerate”
The German government will now settle the dispute over ownership of the Rosenberg painting with the heirs and a second party not revealed. Chris Marinello, the director of Art Recovery International, who is representing the Rosenberg family, said the decision came as no surprise “given the strength of the documentation”. “With this acknowledgement, we look forward to a swift and efficient restitution of this looted work to the family after a 73-year wait.”
As a gesture of good will, other works by Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Marc, Chagall, Nolde and Munch will be traced. Under German law, Gurlitt was not compelled to return the works of art, as the theft took place over 30 years ago.