Published  02/04/2008

Win some, lose some

The small Utrillo painting 'Church' stands out in the current display of 'lost' works in Israel on account of the seal on the frame, 'Feldpolizei 540'. It is still around because wherever it came from, a protective Nazi specialist moved it in the first place for greater safety, to the Castle of Klagenfurt, and in 1951 it formed part of a collection of works which the so-called Allied Recovery Commission moved back to France.

The painting has been part of the quest for proper ownership, and so it is utterly commendable that the Israel Museum is shouldering some curatorial responsibility (this would hardly be seemly coming from Berlin). The ulterior motive of the Israel Museum, in the absence of a proven owner coming forward, could well be to continue on some justifiable basis to display the lost works. This may not be altruistic in itself, but it is utterly commendable.

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