Françoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture, today returned a pastel entitled "Portrait d'homme, dit Monsieur d'Albespierre", formerly attributed to Maurice Quentin de La Tour (1704 – 1788), to the representative of rights holders of the Léonino family.
The model depicted in this large portrait is not clearly identified and could be a member of the Albespeyre family, which in the eighteenth century included lawyers, King’s counsel and an architect. Despite the ancient attribution, stylistically, the work cannot be attached to Maurice Quentin de La Tour.
Registered in the inventory of the artistic recovery under the number REC 7, this drawing is part of the National Museums Recovery - "MNR", a generic acronym for works returned from Germany at the end of the Second World War, after being plundered from Jews for the most part, and entrusted to the custody of national museums, pending their restitution to their rightful owners or beneficiaries.
This pastel, which was part of the sale after the death of Baron Léonino in 1937, seems to have been bought, probably through an agent, by one of his heirs, his daughter, Mme Antoinette Léonino, Les collections de la dernière, preserved in a guard-roomThe furniture was plundered by the Germans in October 1942 and the pastel, which was part of it, passed through the hands of the German merchant of Hildebrand Gurlitt before being sold in 1943 at the Cologne Museum.
Returned to France by the second convoy from Baden-Baden in July 1947, the work was handed over to the Louvre Museum’s Cabinet des Dessins in December 1949 and then officially attributed to the National Museums and assigned to the Louvre in 1951. While Léonino had claimed this work after the war, an unfortunate transcription error in her title, long ignored, had not been able to link this request until recent research on the history of NRMs by the French Museum Service of the Directorate-General for Heritage, with the curators of the Department of Graphic Arts of the Louvre and the help of other researchers.
Thanks to the proactive policy initiated by the ministers of culture since 2013, the process of restitution of stolen works has been strengthened in recent years, with the support of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Commission pour l'indemnisation des victimes de spoliations (CIVS), and allows to actively pursue the remissions of «MNR», like that of REC 7, to the rightful owners of their rightful owners, They were robbed by the Nazi regime or forced to sell their property to flee it.
The Minister of Culture, determined to continue the restitution of «MNR», welcomes the results obtained by deepening research into the sources of these goods resulting from artistic recovery and by combining the efforts of the actors involved in the fulfilment of this duty of justice and reparation.