Tate told to return stolen painting

By Nick Clark

The painting 'Beaching a Boat, Brighton.'
The painting 'Beaching a Boat, Brighton.'

Britain's Tate gallery has been ordered to return a valuable Constable painting and criticised for failing to adequately research its background after it emerged the work was looted during World War II.

The Spoliation Advisory Panel, set up to scrutinise claims over works in public collections that were potentially looted during the Nazi era, released a report recommending the gallery return the painting Beaching a Boat, Brighton.

In the 22-page report, it said the Tate was under "a moral obligation to pursue the possibility that the painting had been the object of spoliation during the war". The gallery now plans to return the work - donated to the collection more than a quarter of a century ago - after a trustee meeting.

The panel, chaired by Sir Donnel Deeny, said the gallery's experts could have consulted several sources to establish the likelihood the painting had been looted during the war.

"It would not have been difficult to have made inquiries of the Hungarian Government, who had included the painting on its official list of looted art from the late 1940s," it added.

The collector was revealed by The Art Newspaper as Baron Ferenc Hatvany, who deposited the painting in a Budapest bank vault when the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, and he fled to the countryside.

Hatvany, a Jew who died in 1958, had put the painting into the vault under a different name and title. He bought it at a Paris auction in 1908.

When Soviet forces marched into Hungary in 1945 they looted the bank vaults and carried away numerous paintings, including two of those owned by Hatvany.

- Independent

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