Renoir, Sisley Paintings Sold Under Duress During Nazi Occupation of France Returned - The World News

Renoir, Sisley Paintings Sold Under Duress During Nazi Occupation of France Returned

Two paintings, one by Alfred Sisley and another by Auguste Renoir, sold under duress by a Jewish gallery owner during the Nazi occupation of France, were returned to his beneficiaries on Thursday, May 16, in a handover ceremony in Paris. 

The works, Sisley’s Les Péniches (1870) and Renoir’s Caryatides (1909), originally belonged to Grégoire Schusterman, who operated a gallery in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. During the Nazi occupation of France, Schusterman, in the process of terminating his lease, was forced by the Nazis to sell several paintings. Les Péniches was sold to the art dealer Raphaël Gérard in 1941, who later sold it to Munich gallery owner Maria Gillhausen. Adolf Wüster, then-cultural attaché at the German embassy in Paris — a key figure in the distribution of looted art or art sold under duress — acted as the intermediary in this transaction.

It’s unclear when Schusterman was seperated from the Renoir. According to Le Monde, which first reported the restitution, the painting resurfaced on the art market on March 22, 1941, offered by dealer Alfred Pacquement. A record of the invoice of the Renoir sale again shows the involvement of Raphaël Gérard.

The works were returned in the presence of France’s culture minister Rachida Dati to eleven legal rights holders of Schusterman, who died in 1976. As reported by Le Monde, one of the beneficierias said at the ceremony, “We are very moved. The story is coming to the surface.”

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