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Belgian museum returns looted art to Jewish family

February 10, 2022

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts gave back the painting "Flowers," by German expressionist Lovis Corinth, which had been looted by the Nazis.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium pack the painting "Flowers" by Lovis Corinth as it is returned the descendants of the Jewish couple Gustav and Emma Mayer, more than 70 years after it was plundered by the Nazis
Museum staff pack the painting "Flowers" to return it to descendants of the Jewish couple Gustav and Emma MayerImage: Johanna Geron/REUTERS

A leading Belgian art museum has returned a painting to the family of the German Jewish couple from whom it was stolen after they fled Germany during World War II.

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts on Thursday handed the painting, "Flowers," to a lawyer representing the family.

It was painted by Lovis Corinth and had belonged to Gustav and Emma Mayer before they fled their home in Nazi Germany in 1938 to Brussels and, ultimately, Britain.

Search for 30 paintings plundered by the Nazis

The painting of a blue vase filled with pink flowers is one of 30 artworks the Mayer family is searching for.

"This is the first that has been really identified because, unfortunately, we have no images of the missing paintings," family lawyer Imke Gielen said.

After the war, Belgian authorities failed to establish the owner of the painting and entrusted it to the museum in 1951, where it has since hung.

On Thursday, the museum also launched two rooms containing and addressing Nazi-looted art and works taken by Belgium during its colonial period.

The museum's director, Michel Draguet, said it had been easier to find the original owners of artworks in the case of Jewish families living in Belgium, because of the archives and contacts.

"Here, it was impossible even to know if this work is coming from Germany, from another country," Draguet said.

lo/sms (dpa, Reuters)