A Dutch committee charged with assessing and acting on claims about artwork stolen from Jews before and during the Holocaust has determined that a painting by Wassily Kandinsky should be returned to the family of the Jewish woman who likely owned it prior to the Holocaust.
The family of Johanna Margarethe Stern-Lippmann, who was murdered in 1944 at Auschwitz, should regain possession of “Blick auf Murnau mit Kirche,” or “View of Murnau with Church,” an abstract work that the Dutch city of Eindhoven has owned since 1951 and has displayed at its art museum.
The decision reverses an earlier one, in 2018, in which the committee determined that there was not enough evidence to show that Stern-Lippmann had possessed the painting after the Nazis assumed power to prove that she had given up ownership under duress.
Recently, the committee ruled that new evidence had emerged to support the family’s claim to the painting.
Because Stern-Lippmann, a prominent art collector and trader before the Holocaust, was Jewish, without any evidence that she had sold the painting voluntarily prior to the Nazi invasion, it was appropriate to assume that “View of Murnau with Church” had been expropriated during it, the committee concluded.
“We are thrilled that the Kandinsky has been returned to us,” descendants of Stern-Lippmann in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States said in a statement.
The family, which has previously had works restored to it by France, had protested against the committee’s 2018 decision.
“The painting used to have a prominent position hanging in our (great) grand-parents’ house and represents much of our family’s story,” the family members said. “Its coming back to us now marks an important moment. It won’t bring back the nine immediate family members who were so tragically murdered, but it’s an acknowledgment of the injustice that we, and so many like us, have endured.”