A painting by Nicolas Poussin, stolen in France by the Nazis in 1944, has been found in Italy and returned to its owners, the Italian gendarmerie said on Thursday. The work, entitled “Lot with his two daughters drinking,” dates from the seventeenth century.
This 120 x 150 cm oil painting had been stolen by German soldiers residing with the legitimate owners of the painting in Poitiers. The owners had looked for their painting in 1946 and the work had been listed in 1947 in the “Directory of property looted in France during the 1939-1945 war”.
A journey through Europe
The investigation was relaunched in 2020 when the heirs of the owners, a 98-year-old Swiss woman and a 65-year-old American, lodged a complaint through their Italian lawyer. A unit of the riflemen specializing in the protection of cultural heritage then found the painting.
His journey through Europe is difficult to follow. The painting was reportedly bought in France by an Italian antique dealer in 2017, who then sold it to another antique dealer, also Italian. The latter exhibited it in 2019 in the Netherlands and it was during this exhibition that a Dutch art expert living in Italy recognized this painting.
A French painter in love with Italy
The carabinieri then set out on the trail of the painting and finally found it at the home of the antiquarian near Padua (north-eastern Italy). The work was seized and returned to its rightful owners, concludes the press release from the Italian authorities, which does not give further details on the date and place of this return.
Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), one of the greatest classical masters of French painting, is best known for medium-sized paintings intended for a few Italian or French amateurs to whom he remained faithful throughout his life. Left to live in Rome, his fame allowed him to become the king’s painter and to return to France, but he preferred to return to Rome where he resided until his death.