Switzerland returns plundered Constable painting to Jewish family

EJP 20 May 2008

GENEVA (AFP)---A Geneva art gallery will return a 19th century painting by British landscape artist John Constable to relatives of French Jews 65 years after it was stolen and auctioned in wartime occupied France, local official said Friday.

An undated picture provided on May 16, 2008 by the Fine Arts Museum of La Chaux-de-Fonds shows the masterwork "Dedham from Langham," a painting dated from 1820 by British John Constable (1776-1837), which will be returned to the heirs of a French Jewish family despoiled during the Second World War.
Photo: AFP Copyright 2008


The 1820 John Constable oil-on-canvas "Dedham from Langham" was confiscated from a Jewish family in the French town of Nice on the Mediterranean in 1943 and sold at auction there in 1943.
The museum was "reasonably convinced that this painting was looted," said Geneva city councillor Jean-Pierre Veya.
He said city hall had decided to return the work to the family of southern French art collectors John and Anna Jaffe on moral grounds after a request by Anna Jaffe's great nephew, a Paris-based teacher.
But the Geneva authorities were seeking an agreement whereby the new owner would be prepared to let the painting remain in the art gallery on loan in view of the work of restoration the gallery had done on it, he said.
The Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Chaux-de-Fonds here had been exhibiting the painting for some 20 years.
A private collector donated it to the gallery in the late 1980s after buying it from another Geneva art gallery.
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