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Jacob Ochtervelt, The Oyster Meal, ca. 1664–65, oil on canvas, 21 x 18".

Nazi-Looted Old Master Painting Restored to Heirs by Lord Mayor of London

Today, Andrew Parmley Alderman, the Lord Mayor of London, returned a Dutch old-master work that was looted from the Netherlands during World War II to the daughter of J. H. Smidt van Gelder, who served as director of the children’s hospital in Arnhem during the Battle of Arnhem, Catherine Hickley reports in the Art Newspaper.

The painting, titled The Oyster Meal by Jacob Ochtervelt and dated around 1664–65, has been on display at the Mansion House in London, the Lord Mayor’s official residence, for nearly thirty years. It was one of fourteen paintings that J. H. Smidt van Gelder stored in a bank vault for safekeeping during the war, but the works were looted in January 1945, when the Nazis ransacked the town after British troops were forced to retreat in the Battle of Arnhem. The Oyster Meal is one of six works his family was not able to track down after the war. Van Gelder’s daughter, Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, received the painting at a ceremony at Mansion House today with the Lord Mayor.

The Commission for Looted Art in Europe documented the history of the painting since 1945. It was acquired by property developer and entrepreneur Harold Samuel in 1971 and was one of eighty-four works he bequeathed to the City of London Corporation in 1987, on the condition that they be shown permanently in Mansion House. Samuel’s daughters agreed to waive the condition so that The Oyster Meal could be returned to Bischoff van Heemskerck.

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