Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


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 States).

  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 Advisory Panel.

  I am enclosing copies of our articles of April 1995, May 1995, September 1998 and June 1999[40]. My correspondent, Martin Bailey, would be happy to provide any further information.

Anna Somers Cocks


March 2000

40   Not printed. Back

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