Boston museum returning 17th century Dutch painting to Jewish collector’s heirs

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) has agreed to return a looted 17th century painting to the descendants of the Jewish art collector to whom it last belonged before it was declared missing following World War II.

In a statement, Matthew Teitelbaum, director of the MFA, said it is “pleased to have worked so quickly and amicably with the heirs of Ferenc Chorin to redress this historical loss.” 

The 1646 painting “View of Beverwijk” by Dutch Golden Age painter Salomon van Ruysdael had been deposited into the Hungarian Commercial Bank of Pest by Chorin in 1943 before his family fled Hungary the following year. Chorin had bought the painting from the estate of fellow collector Frigyes Glück in the 1930s.

“The return of Ruysdael’s View of Beverwijk underscores the importance of transparency and providing online access to our collection,” Teitelbaum said.

The painting is currently on public view at Christie’s in New York. It will go up for auction later this year.

As the MFA noted, Chorin was a prolific Hungarian industrialist and banker with an impressive collection of artwork that included paintings from François Millet and Charles-François Daubigny as well as furniture pieces from the Italian Renaissance. Despite being discovered by the Nazis after going into hiding, Chorin was able to survive the war and eventually settled in New York City.

“Historical justice entails not only restituting the works of art that have been stolen by the Nazis. In many cases the claimants have to struggle for years before obtaining justice,” said Agnes Peresztegi, an attorney for the Chorin family. “In this case, I would like to pay homage to the MFA for not only restituting the work to its rightful owners, but also doing it in an elegant, professional, swift and just manner.”

“View of Beverwijk” was acquired by the MFA in 1982 from a London dealer under an incorrect description, obscuring its status as a missing artwork. The museum was notified by scholar and researcher Sándor Juhász in 2019 that the painting had once belonged to Glück, eventually leading to the discovery Chorin’s family in 2021.

Just last month, U.S. officials agreed to return $11 million worth of Italian artwork and antiquities that had been illegally trafficked into the country. The U.S. returned 201 artifacts to Italy in December, with 161 of the pieces being resettled there.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said at the time that the artworks will be returned to where they were stolen from. The returned pieces included ancient pottery and a 4th century sculpture.

Tags Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston World War II WWII

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