France has restituted three paintings by Flemish painter Joachim Patinir to the heirs of Herta and Henry Bromberg, Jewish collectors who were forced to sell the works after they fled to Paris from Germany to escape Nazi persecution in 1938. According to AFP, the following year the couple sold the sixteenth-century work Triptych of the Crucifixion, as well as several others, at less than market prices in order to afford to travel to the United States from Switzerland.
The works, which were handed over to descendants of the Bromberg family by French culture minister Francoise Nyssen at the Louvre in Paris on Monday, February 12, had been in the possession of the French state collections for nearly seven decades after World War II. The return of the works comes on the heels of the Louvre’s opening of two galleries designated for works that were stolen by the Nazis in hopes that their rightful owners will come forward. It is estimated that more than one hundred thousand artworks were confiscated from French Jews or Jews who fled to France before the German occupation. Around sixty thousand of those artworks were recovered in Germany and returned to France after the war.