On Thursday, April 1, 2021, the Italian police announced in an official statement that a picture by the French artist Nicolas Poussin, "Lot with his two daughters serving him drinks," was found in Italy. It was stolen in 1944 by the Nazis from Jewish owners in France during that territory's occupation. According to The Times of Israel, the painting has been returned to a 98-year-old Swiss woman and a 65-year-old American. They reported the work stolen in 2020.

The Art News reports that artworks were painted by a French Baroque oil artist Poussin in the 17th century.

As a result of the looting of Jews during World War II, many works of art were confiscated, and the owners of this painting were unable to find them for a long time.

Poussin's picture has now been discovered in the place of an antique seller near Padua, Italy. A press release from the cultural heritage unit of the Italian police noted that the painting was taken by German soldiers when they defeated the house of its Jewish owners in Poitiers in western France.

Thanks to the Nucleo Carabinieri's ongoing work to protect Monza's cultural heritage, this painting by a French artist has finally been found and returned to its rightful owners after years of searching and investigation.

History of the search for a Poussin painting

The size of the painting is 120 by 150 centimeters (47 by 59 inches). The owners began seeking the looted painting in 1946.

In 1947, the French Commission for the Restoration of Works of Art made an inventory, which also included the painting in question, subsequently incorporated by the French Central Bureau of Restitution in the Directory of Property Stolen in France during the War of 1939-1945, a list of property looted during World War II.

The investigation and search for the painting resumed in 2020. The legatees, a 98-year-old woman from Swiss and a 65-year-old man from the USA, filed a complaint with their Italian attorney.

How was the painting found?

The investigation revealed that the location of the picture was undiscovered until 2017. In 2017, an Italian antique dealer from Emilia imported it from France to Italy to export the artwork to Belgium for an exhibition in Brussels.

In 2019, another Milan-based ancient merchant transported the painting to the Netherlands to exhibit it at an international art carnival in Maastricht. At the presentation, an audience member, a Dutch art historian, identified the painting as one of the works on the approved list of French art stolen during the war. It was in the house of this antique dealer that the Italian police found the painting.

Works of art stolen by the Nazi occupiers throughout the war continue to be discovered in various collections worldwide. But unfortunately, the return of stolen works of art is not always quick and consensual. Often the situation turns into protracted lawsuits and high-profile to return works of art to their original legitimate heirs.

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