Poussin painting stolen by Nazis found in Italy, returned to French Jewish owner

ROME – A painting by French master Nicolas Poussin, stolen from its French Jewish owners by Nazi soldiers in 1944, was found in Italy and returned to its rightful owners, Italian police said Thursday.

The 17th century oil painting by the Baroque painter entitled “Lot with his two daughters serving him drinks” was confiscated from the house of an antique dealer near Padua.

The 120 by 150 centimeter work was stolen during World War II when German soldiers occupied the home of its Jewish owners in Poitiers in western France, the Italian police, who specialize in cultural heritage, said in a press release.

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The owners began looking for their stolen property after the war in 1946.

In 1947 the work was included in the “List of goods looted in France during the 1939-1945 war” published by the French Restitution Bureau.

An investigation resumed last year when the heirs, a 98-year-old Swiss woman and a 65-year-old American, filed a complaint through their Italian attorney.

The whereabouts of the painting were unknown until 2017, when the painting was brought to Italy by an Italian antique dealer from France who sent it to Belgium for exhibition, police said.

Two years later, another antique dealer from Milan, whom the police identified as the real owner, sent the work to an international art exhibition in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

There a Dutch art expert recognized it from the official list of French art stolen during the war.

The painting was found in the dealer’s house and returned to its rightful owners, police said.

Looted art by Nazi occupiers during the war continues to be discovered around the world, often leading to lengthy court battles to restore the works of their rightful owners.

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