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Two Paintings Looted by Nazis Are Donated to the Louvre by Jewish Heirs

Two seventeenth-century paintings looted by the Nazis and kept at the Louvre in Paris after the war have been returned to their Jewish owners, who have now donated them back to the museum, AFP reports.

Still-Life with Ham by Floris van Schooten and flower still life by the German artist Peter Binoit were on display in a ceremony at the Louvre that was attended by several descendants of the former owners.

The two paintings had been part of the Louvre’s northern painting collection for decades, as part of the National Museum Recovery program for stolen works whose owners are unknown. The French government commissioned genealogy experts in 2015 to examine a small number of items in these collections, as part of a broader movement in French museums to track down rightful owners.


Floris van Schooten (1585/1588-1656), Still Life with Ham, 1626
Musée du Louvre, Paris

According to the registration records, the panel by Floris van Schooten was confiscated from “Juralides” at 5 rue Maubourg in Paris on 19 January 1944. Research revealed that “Juralides” was a misreading of either “Invalides” or “Javal Dr”, and that “rue Maubourg” was a mistake for Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg, not far from Les Invalides. It was therefore possible to identify “Juralides” with the name of Émile Javal (1839-1907), who lived at 5 boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg, in the Invalides district. Before it was seized, the house at 5 Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg was the home of Mathilde Javal (1876-1947), the last daughter of the medical doctor Émile Javal and his wife Maria Ellissen.

Four paintings were confiscated from the Javal house and stored for a short time at the Jeu de Paume art center in Paris before being transferred to the Nikolsburg Castle (now Mikulov Castle in the Czech Republic). Having escaped the fire that destroyed the castle at the end of the war, the painting probably passed through the Altaussee salt mine before being registered on 3 November 1945 at the Central Collection Point in Munich. From Munich it was repatriated to Paris in October 1946.

Mathilde Javal had put in a restitution request after the war, but the errors in the spelling of her name and address prevented the works from being restituted. The panel by Floris van Schooten and the still life by Binoit were eventually returned to the heirs of Mathilde Javal and Maria Ellissen in December 2023 and have now been donated back to the Louvre.