Germany to Return Painting, Confiscated Twice From Jewish Owners, to Their Heirs

The still life painting by Narcisso Virgilio Diaz de la Pena was put on compulsory auction first in 1934, and seized from its second owner in 1939.

The Wallraf Richartz Museum in Cologne, Germany.
The Wallraf Richartz Museum in Cologne, Germany. Laurens Lamberty, Wikipedia

The western German city of Cologne said Wednesday it is set to return a painting by Narcisso Virgilio Diaz de la Pena that was sold at a compulsory auction by the Nazis.

The still life of a bouquet, currently held at the city's Wallraf Richartz Museum, will be returned in equal parts to the previous Jewish owners' heirs, who want the painting to be sold at auction.

The painting by de la Pena (1807-1876) had originally belonged to the liberal newspaper publisher Rudolf Mosse (1843-1920), who passed it on to his daughter Felicia Lachmann-Mosse.

In 1934, several months after Hitler's rise to power, her possessions were put up at a compulsory auction in Berlin, where it was bought by the German Jewish art dealer Walter Westfeld.

Westfeld's art collection was later confiscated by the Nazis and put up for auction in Cologne in 1939. Westfeld was deported and killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Researchers have found a number of paintings from the former Mosse collection in museums.

Only recently, the University of Zurich returned two portraits of Egyptian mummies to Mosse's heirs.

Several returned art works from the Mosse collection are to be sold at auction in Berlin in early June.