The Israel Museum said Thursday it has returned a painting to the estate of its creator, decades after the masterpiece was looted from a Jewish museum in Nazi Germany. "The Return of Tobias," a 1934 painting by German Jewish artist Max Liebermann, is now in Berlin after it was determined that the work belongs to Liebermann's heirs.
Liebermann, who died in 1935 at the age of 88, was a prolific painter who led the avant-garde artistic society known as the Berlin Secession. He also served as president of the Prussian Academy of Arts during the 1920s and 1930s. Some of his works are valued at more than $1 million.
The Israel Museum's director, James Snyder, said Liebermann loaned his painting to the Jewish Museum in Berlin in the 1930s.
The work, along with many others, disappeared from the museum during World War II.
Over the last year, art historians began delving into the background of the painting while preparing for an exhibit on looted art in the Berlin Centrum Judaicum. Liebermann's work was one of 12 pieces the Israel Museum agreed to send to Germany for the exhibit.
"The fact that Max Liebermann was a prominent German artist of his time and living in Berlin, coupled with the new research that enabled us to discover that this work belonged to him, adds particular poignancy to our being able to restore it to his heirs now," Snyder said.
"The Return of Tobias" is the third of Liebermann's works to be returned to the family, according to the museum. Over the years, the Israel Museum has returned some 30 pieces to owners or heirs.
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