Memorandum submitted by the Art Newspaper
The Art Newspaper has published the most detailed
information on the case of the works of Durer which were
looted from the Lubomirski Museum, in Lviv, now in the Ukraine.
Assembled two centuries ago, this was one of the most important
collections of Durer drawings. It is also one of the very
few documented cases when artworks looted by the Nazis ended up
in UK public collections.
The drawings were dispersed after the Second
World War, and the three now in UK public collections are:
Durer, "Emperors Charlemagne
and Sigismund", in the Courtauld Gallery, London.
Durer, "Man with oar",
Barber Institute, University of Birmingham.
Baldung (originally attributed to
Durer) "Rape of Europa", British Museum.
The remainder are in the other collections,
mainly in the United States.
The drawings were looted by the Nazis in 1941
and subsequently fell into the hands of the American authorities
in 1945. In 1950 the Americans gave the drawings to the Head of
the Lubomirski family, Georg Lubomirski, who then sold the works.
The US decision was questionable, and there is an argument that
the drawings should have been returned to either Lviv or Wroclaw
(where part of the museum collection ended up after the Second
World War, because of the change in the Polish border). Both Lviv
and Wroclaw claim rights to the drawings, although only the Ukraine
Government has instituted a legal claim (initially in the United
The Lubomirski case raised complicated problems,
both because of legal issues surrounding the establishment of
the Lubomirski Museum in the early 19th century and because of
competing claims from Lviv and Wroclaw.
In an article to be published in due course
we will report that British Museum documents reveal that in a
letter of 25 February 1999, the Keeper of the Prints and Drawings
Department writes that "we have done no work ourselves in
trying to establish the rights and wrongs of the situation".
However, The Art Newspaper believes that these cannot be avoided
and should be examined by the UK museums which have acquired these
works and also considered by the newly established Spoliation
I am enclosing copies of our articles of April
1995, May 1995, September 1998 and June 1999.
My correspondent, Martin Bailey, would be happy to provide any
Anna Somers Cocks
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