Netherlands returns Brueghel painting

17th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Netherlands Wednesday returned a painting by Jan Brueghel the Younger that vanished in Nazi Germany to a Canadian university -- the beneficiary of its rightful owner, a Jewish art dealer, the school announced.

The oil on copper painting called "Allegory of Earth and Water" depicts a picnic lunch with brightness and details typical of the Flemish painter's works.

It was owned by Jewish art dealer Max Stern whose collection was bequeathed to Concordia University and McGill University in Montreal, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The painting, which was until recently on display at the Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch, was returned on Wednesday to Concordia officials at a ceremony in The Hague.

Threatened by the Nazis, Stern was forced in December 1937 to close his gallery in Dusseldorf, inherited from his father, and fled to London and then Canada after being forced to abandon or sell some 400 paintings, sold cheaply by the Gestapo.

The painting is the eighth painting in Stern's original collection to be returned to the beneficiaries, but "the first delivered by a European government," said Clarence Epstein, director of the restoration project of the works of Max Stern at Concordia University.

Lost under mysterious circumstances during the Second World War, it was found in the hands of a Dutch art dealer, Jan Dik Jr., who resold it to a museum in Hamburg, before it was finally recovered by the allies and handed over to the Netherlands after the war.

Prized by collectors, Brueghel's works have sold at auction in recent years for several million dollars.

© 2010 AFP

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