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Thomas Couture, Portrait de jeune femme assise, 1850–55. Photo: Mick Vincenz / Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland GmbH

Painting from Gurlitt Collection Identified as Nazi Loot

Thanks to the scrupulous note-taking of an informant for the French Resistance, researchers have confirmed that a painting from Charles Gurlitt’s trove was stolen by the Nazis. The informant, Rose Valland, was an art historian employed by the Nazis at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, where the party stored their looted art. Her notes regarding the repair of the canvas helped the Gurlitt Provenance Research Project identify the work.

Titled Portrait de jeune femme assise (Portrait of a Seated Young Woman), 1850–55, by Thomas Couture, the painting was originally owned by the French Jewish politician Georges Mandel. According to Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper, Mandel was imprisoned by the Nazis and murdered by French militia in 1944. This painting is the sixth work from the Gurlitt collection that the German Lost Art Foundation has determined was stolen. Gurlitt’s hoard of fifteen hundred works, which he inherited from his father, an art dealer who worked for the Nazis, was confiscated by the German authorities in 2012. The works have since been bequeathed to Switzerland’s Bern’s Kunstmuseum.

 “The fact that the researchers managed to identify this painting as Nazi loot with scholarly meticulousness and persistence shows how important it is to persevere with provenance research,” Monika Grütters, the German culture minister, said in a statement. Grütters hopes to have the painting returned to Mandel’s descendants.

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