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Give it Back – UK Panel Says Tate Museum Must Return Constable Painting Stolen by Nazis

March 26, 2014
Beaching a Boat, Brighton 1824 John Constable 1776-1837  Oil paint on paper on canvas: 248 x 294 mm  Clink on image to enlarge

John Constable (1776-1837), “Beaching a Boat, Brighton” (1824)
Oil paint on paper on canvas: 248 x 294 mm
Clink on image to enlarge.

A UK panel has concluded a John Constable painting in the collection of the Tate Museum in London was stolen by the Nazis in 1944 and should be returned to the heirs of the owner from whom it was taken.  In a new report, the Spoliation Advisory Panel determined that the claim by heirs of the Hatvany family “was sufficiently strong to warrant a return of the painting by the Tate in accordance with the provisions of the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009.

“The Panel concluded that it is likely that the Painting was in the ownership of a Hungarian art collector in 1944 at the time when the Germans invaded Hungary and that it was taken in the course of antisemitic persecution of the collector and his family by the German occupying forces.”

According to the Tate’s Web site, the painting, which is not currently on view, was given to the museum by Mrs. P.M. Rainsford in 1986.

According to the report:

The task of the Panel is to consider claims from anyone, or from their heirs, who lost possession of a cultural object during the Nazi era (1933-1945) where such an object is now in the possession of a UK national collection, or in the possession of another UK museum or gallery established for the public benefit; and to advise the claimant, the institution, and, where it considers it appropriate, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what action should be taken in relation to the claim (see the Panel’s Constitution and Terms of Reference in the Appendix). If the Panel recommends the transfer of an object from a collection belonging to one of the bodies named in Section 1 of The Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009 to the claimant and the Secretary of State approves the Panel’s recommendation, the Museum is empowered to return the objects in question to the claimant. Section 1 of the Act applies to the Board of Trustees of the Tate.

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