This talk will address the restitution of the painting “Still Life with Flowers” (1660) attributed to Jan van Kessel II. In late 2020, the painting, which had been in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), was handed over to the heirs of the family of Martha and Dagobert David, based in London England, who claimed the piece as a work that had been lost by their family under Nazi duress.
This case study is significant because after the AGO deaccessioned “Still Life with Flowers” questions arose in the media about whether the David family was in fact the rightful claimant of the painting. Discussions surfaced about how, possibly, the heirs of Max Stern, the Montreal-based owner of the Dominion Gallery, had a claim to the work. This case exposes both the AGO and Canada’s inexperience in dealing with the restitution of Nazi-looted art and how at a time when society demands complete transparency and due process from museums, when it comes to Nazi-looted art, the need for clear process and procedure around restitution is more essential than ever.
Dr. Sara Angel received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2017; her Dissertation was on the restitution cases of the Dusseldorf-born art dealer Max Stern’s Nazi-looted art, lost in a Gestapo-ordered forced sale in 1937. Angel is the Founder and Executive Director of the Art Canada Institute (www.aci-iac.ca), the leading initiative in making Canadian art accessible to a twenty-first century audience by digitizing and democratizing the nation’s cultural heritage. An adjunct professor at both York University and Western University, Angel teaches on art crime and art restitution. She is a recipient of a Trudeau Doctoral Scholarship, the most prestigious award of its kind in Canada, given for innovative ideas that will help solve issues of critical importance. Angel has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and The Israel Museum.
All are welcome but registration is necessary. To book your place please visit https://www.history.ac.uk/events/still-life-flowers-a-case-study-need-improved-canadian-museum-restitution-procedure and click on book now. Please note that registration for this seminar will close 24 hours in advance. Details about how to join the seminar will be circulated via email to registered attendees on the Monday morning.
Convenors: Susan Bracken, Andrea M. Gáldy, Adriana Turpin