The painting, Portrait of a Lady (1652) by Dutch Old Master Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck, which is part of the permanent collection of The Art Gallery of Hamilton will be returned to the heirs of the original owners, after confirming that the artwork belonged to a private collection looted by Nazi authorities in 1940 – the Toronto Star reports. Sarah Solmssen, great granddaughter-in-law of Alma Bertha Salomonsohn, the wife of Arthur Salomonsohn, who assembled an important collection of art have been identified as the heirs of the work.
The museum received detailed documentation which verified the claim by the Solmssen family, the details of which included the initial circumstances surrounding the loss of the work. The painting was purchased at Sotheby’s New York in 1987 by The Art Gallery of Hamilton Volunteer Committee, when its provenance as looted property had not yet been established.
Alma Salomonsohn, who changed her name to Solmssen after immigrating to the United States in the 1940s, began a thorough search for her husband’s stolen paintings, which was continued by her descendants after her death.
Louise Dompierre, president and CEO of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, said inb a statement: “In making our decision to return Portrait of a Lady we have been guided by international law – and our own extensive research into the history of the painting’s ownership. It is a great pleasure to return the painting to those whom we believe, to the best of our knowledge, are its rightful owners.”
The general public will have the opportunity to view the Portrait of a Lady before it is returned to the Solmssen family in April of next year. The work can be seen as part of the Art Gallery of Hamilton exhibition “Art for a Century: 100 for the 100th.”