A Franco-British tug of love and money has broken out over a painting which disappeared from a Toulouse museum in 1818.
The French Government has barred the removal from France of Christ Portant la Croix (Christ Carrying the Cross), a painting by 17th-century Franco-German artist Nicolas Tournier, which turned up in Florence in 2009 after being missing for almost two centuries.
It was recently offered for sale for about €675,000 ($1.67 million) by a London art dealer.
The painting, now owned by the Weiss Gallery in London, went on show in Paris at the weekend after months of negotiations on its possible re-sale to the Toulouse museum.
The French Culture Ministry declared yesterday that the painting was "stolen goods" and would be reclaimed by the French state.
Its fate is now likely to be the subject of a long legal battle between Mark Weiss, a leading London dealer in 16th and 17th century art, and the French state.