August 19, 2006

Gallery returns painting looted by Nazis

By Julie Mollins

TORONTO (Reuters) - A 20th-century French oil painting by
Edouard Vuillard, looted by the Nazis during World War Two,
will be returned to the family of its original owner, the
National Gallery of Canada said on Friday.

This is the first time a work stolen by the Nazis has been
identified and returned to its rightful owners by the Ottawa

"We are proud of the fact that we brought it up first and
that the right result has been achieved," said Chief Curator
David Franklin.

The National Gallery first tried to return the painting in
1997 to the family of Alfred Lindon, a French businessman of
Jewish descent who died in 1948, after a curator discovered it
had been stolen by the Nazis in France.

At the time, the family had no record of having owned the
oil painting and refused its return.

In 2003, the gallery received definitive proof of its
ownership and Denis Lindon, another family member, began
proceedings to reclaim the work on behalf of a group of heirs.

The 1904 post-impressionist painting, entitled "Le Salon de
Madame Aron," reworked by the artist in 1934, depicts a
domestic interior.

"Vuillard is regarded as a leading French artist," Franklin
said. "He's one of the giants of French art."

The painting was purchased by the National Gallery in 1956
from an art dealer in Paris.

The heirs plan to auction the painting, Franklin said.
Earlier this year a Vuillard painting sold at a Sotheby's
auction in London for $315,000, he said.

The gallery maintains a Web site with images of about 100
works from its permanent collection that have gaps in their
proof of ownership between 1933 and 1945, the period before and
during World War Two.