Audrey Azoulay, Minister of Culture and Communication, today returned a drawing attributed to Francesco Mazzuola, known as Le Parmesan (1503-1540), The wedding of Alexandre and Roxane, paper pasted in solid, pen, brown ink and brown wash, to the rights holders of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe, an Italian Jewish collector who arrived in France in the 1920s, whose rich collections were scattered one year after his death in April 1940.
This restitution is part of the proactive policy led by the Ministry of Culture and Communication to accelerate the restitution to their rightful holders of stolen works from the artistic recovery entrusted to the custody of the national museums (MNR).
Mr. Gentili di Giuseppe’s property was sold after his death in Drouot on 23 and 24 April 1941 by a provisional administrator appointed at the request of a creditor, in the absence of his children who had had to flee the capital because of persecution. In a proceeding initiated in 1997 by the descendants of this great collector, who asked for the restitution of five paintings belonging to him, the court considered that the sale of 1941 was coercive and dispossess, in so far as it probably would not have taken place had the two heirs not had to leave Paris.
The drawing returned today, recovered after the Second World War and returned to France in 1948, had been attributed in 1951 to the national museums and given to the department of graphic arts of the Louvre Museum, under the reference REC 68. It could be established with certainty that it was part of the 1941 sale (lot no. 19, under the title Mars brought back by Venus and disarmed by love), thanks to the research of the working group on the provenance of these goods, established since 2013, and thanks to the analysis of the digital sales catalogues by the National Institute of Art History (INHA), with the financial support of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah. This time, the identification is therefore the result of research carried out by the public authorities.
The minister reiterated the priority she gave to the issue of refunds and reaffirmed the department’s unwavering commitment to this work of memory and the duty to make reparations. She praised this result obtained by the work of the research group, which illustrates the relevance of the complementary approach undertaken since 2013, which consists in identifying the owners of the stolen works, in parallel with the processing of requests submitted by rights holders.