Possible Nazi art thefts found in Canada

The Foreigner 21 February 2010

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria houses paintings from Norwegian Royal Palace.

Sinclair's landing in Romsdal, 1876
Sinclair's landing in Romsdal, 1876
Photo: (Illustration)Adolph TidemandWikimedia

NRK has discovered four paintings from the Norwegian Royal Palace collection “hidden away” in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Neither the Palace nor the National Museum will make any comment.


The paintings by three Norwegian artists – Johan Christian Claussen Dahl (aka I.C. Dahl), Adolph Tidemand, and Karl Uchermann – and the Austrian artist, Anton Nowak, were part of the Palace’s collection from the 1800s, and were bequeathed by Walter and Emmy Graf-Howard.

The four paintings:
  • I. C. Dahl: No title.
  • Adolph Tidemand: Enken og Hendes Son.
  • Karl Uchermann: Rabbits.
  • Anton Nowak: Unknown.

Graf was a chambermaid at the Palace when WWII broke out and was entrusted with looking after them, according to the gallery’s director, Jon Tupper.

He tells NRK he was surprised when it gradually dawned on him what the gallery had received in 1993.

“We did a little research, and discovered Emmy had taken them with her to Canada when the Nazis were about to invade Oslo,” Tupper says.


“If this is true, why didn’t she return them in 1945?” says Carl-Erik Grimstad, the Palace’s former assistant manager.

But the Palace hasn’t asked them to be returned, won’t make any comment, and the paintings haven’t been registered as stolen with the Art Loss Register (ALR) in London.

 “Vidkun Quisling claimed the Nazis stole 50 paintings from the Palace when he was interrogated just after the war. It should be possible to get to the bottom of this, but we have to find out more about Emmy Graf,” says Grimstad.

Meanwhile, Tupper says the gallery has written to everyone but claims nobody seems to be particularly interested; not even the National Gallery in Oslo.

“We’ll gladly give them back if they were stolen.”
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