France bars London gallery from leaving with 'stolen' art

7th November 2011, Comments 4 comments

France laid claim on Monday to a French baroque painting that it said was stolen 200 years ago, and barred a London gallery that brought the work to Paris for an exhibition from taking it back.

France's culture ministry said the picture, "The Carrying of the Cross" painted by Nicolas Tournier around 1632, had been stolen from a museum in the southern city of Toulouse in 1818 and still belonged to the French state.

London's Weiss Gallery had brought the painting to the French capital for Paris Tableau, a small art fair devoted to Old Masters.

"This was a property of the French state that was deposited at the Augustins Museum in Toulouse and was stolen in 1818. It is a non-transferable work," the ministry said in a statement.

"We are claiming this painting as a property of the state and it will not leave the country," the ministry said, adding that it had informed the gallery of its decision at the weekend.

At the opening of the fair on Monday, the monumental painting of Christ carrying the cross, which measures 2.2 metres by 1.21 metres (7.2 feet by 3.96 feet) was on diplay at the Weiss Gallery's stand.

A company representative refused to comment on the ministry statement when asked by AFP.

A note at the stand said the painting had come from the Augustins Museum, that it had been sold by Sotheby's in Italy and later at the Maastricht art fair.

The painting turned up in 2009 in Italy during the sale of an estate of a wealthy Florence art collector and was later identified by French gallery Didier Aaron & Cie, art merchant Herve Aaron told AFP.

The French gallery sold the work to the Weiss Gallery at the 2010 Maastricht art fair for 400,000 euros ($550,000). The Weiss Gallery offered in Maastricht this year for 675,000 euros, the French newspaper Liberation reported.

© 2011 AFP

4 Comments To This Article

  • Ernest Harrison posted:

    on 8th November 2011, 16:30:32 - Reply

    Yes we do have a carrier - HMS Illustrious...silly idea to invade, we just don;t but French goods such as Citron cars and maybe impound some French property in retaliation.

    BTW should a UK PM be silly enough to contemplate invasion - an aircraft carrier is to close to France to be of any use....Look any general will tell you -0 the way to invade France these days is to catch the Eurostar and invade in comfort.
  • James Nash posted:

    on 8th November 2011, 12:50:46 - Reply

    Why don't we invade them? Because we don't have an aircraft carrier and generally inferior equipment across the board. We also know that they won't "just give up" as a thousand years of history has shown us... Say that to the soldiers of Napoleon or the millions at Verdun/Marne who defended Paris at any cost. If you are referring to 1940... Well there were two countries defeated in France with one of the being Britain. Grow up and understand that a nation that has produced such a huge amount of masterpieces in the art world has a right to protect its national treasures.
  • Keyser Soze posted:

    on 8th November 2011, 09:50:46 - Reply

    Why don't we just invade them? We know they'll just give up anyway.
  • Andy McFadden posted:

    on 8th November 2011, 04:00:18 - Reply

    Nice one, France. Way to fight those national stereotypes about you being petty and standoffish.