Nazi-looted painting returned to Max Stern Estate
The government of The Netherlands handed over an Old Master painting to representatives of the Estate of Dr. Max Stern during a simple ceremony held in The Hague on November 17.
The President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia University (Montreal), Judith Woodsworth, and Clarence Epstein, Director of Special Projects and Cultural Affairs in the President’s Office, represented Concordia as one of the three university beneficiaries – the other two being Montreal's McGill and Hebrew University/Jerusalem.
The painting, “Allegory of Earth and Water” by Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-1678), is remarkable for the complexity of its imagery. The return of the painting is also remarkable for a number of reasons.
The Brueghel is the eighth painting to be returned to the Stern Estate. There are estimated to be a total of 400 artworks seized by the Nazis from the collector and dealer in the years surrounding World War II. But this is the first time the government of a European country has surrendered a work lost to Stern from its national collection.
President Woodsworth expressed her gratitude to the Dutch government for its support of the Max Stern Arts Restitution Project. She also expressed the hope that this restitution will encourage other European countries to follow The Netherlands’ lead in this matter.
There was no litigation involved in the return of the Brueghel painting. Instead, it was removed from the Noorbrabants Museum in Den Bosch after its origins were verified by The Netherlands’ Origins Unknown agency – the organization responsible for investigating the ownership history of certain paintings in the Dutch national collections.
In December, the painting will be transported to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Listen to an interview with Clarence Epstein:
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