The German government returned a Hans Makart painting, which had been in the collection of a museum in Muenster for 40 years, to the heirs of a Jewish woman persecuted by the Nazis and forced to sell it in 1940.
The 1864 painting, “Siesta am Hofe der Mediceer” (“Siesta at the Court of the Medicis”), had been on loan from the German government at Muenster’s State Museum for Art and Cultural History since 1967, said Claudia Miklis, the museum’s spokeswoman. She declined to name the original owner or heirs.
“It is a loss for us, an important painting in our collection, but we are happy it has gone back to the rightful heirs,” Miklis said in a telephone interview today. “We would like to buy it back and are negotiating with the heirs.”
Germany is one of 46 countries that pledged to boost efforts to return art and other property seized during the Nazi era to Jewish victims and their heirs at a Prague conference in June. The accord, known as the Terezin Declaration, also encompassed “forced sales and sales under duress.”
According to a statement from Germany’s Federal Office for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues, the Jewish woman who owned the painting was forced to sell it urgently to cover her living expenses. The Nazis denied her full access to the proceeds of the sale, the office said.
Makart (1840-1884) was an Austrian historical painter who used brilliant colors and influenced Gustav Klimt, among others. A Makart portrait of a woman sold for more than $250,000 at Christie’s International in London nine years ago.
To contact the writer on the story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.