University of Sheffield returns 300-year-old tapestry looted by Nazis
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Wednesday 18 June 2014
A 300-year old tapestry, which has hung in the University of Sheffield for half a century, has been returned to France after revelations it had been looted by the Nazis.
The university moved swiftly to return the tapestry, which is believed to be worth about £30,000, to the Chateau de Versainville in Normandy after learning of its provenance.
Lynne Fox, heritage officer at the university, said: “We were very surprised and shocked. We were satisfied we had bought it in good faith and our immediate response was to give it back. We’re sorry to lose it but we’re proud to bring quite a tragic story to a nice conclusion.”
The tapestry, which shows a scene from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and is dated to 1720, was looted from the chateau during the Nazi occupation of France in the Second World War, while the owners were imprisoned in the Flossenburg concentration camp.
Comte Bernard de la Rochefoucauld, a member of the French Resistance, died as a result of his treatment in the camp but his wife survived only to find their house had been ransacked.
Comte Jacques de la Rochefoucauld, a descendant of Comte Bernard’s brother, has been restoring the chateau in recent years and said the return of the tapestry was a “really emotional experience”.
The university bought the tapestry in 1959 from an art dealer in Bond Street, and it has been on display in a meeting room since then.
Following recent renovations, the university decided to replace the tapestry and wrote to the chateau about the work.
Dr Fox said: “We didn’t know its recent history at all. We knew that it had belonged to the chateau because of the coat of arms on it. They were delighted to discover where it was.”
They produced photographs of the tapestry hanging on the chateau’s walls and the Art Loss Register confirmed it had been registered as stolen in the war. There were originally three tapestries and the other two are still missing.
James Ratcliffe, director of recoveries at the Art Loss Register, said: “We are extremely grateful to the University of Sheffield for their assistance and generosity,” adding they hoped to recover the two missing tapestries.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 4 Amy Schumer: 'I'm 160lbs and can catch a d**k any time I want'
- 5 Isis executes three gay men by dangling them from top of 100ft building and letting go
Syd Barrett's inner visions
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Simon Cowell 'feels like an idiot' after Jules and Matisse scandal
Game of Thrones season 6: George RR Martin doing 'anything he can' to get new book The Winds of Winter out before next HBO series airs
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9, The Dance of Dragons: Jon Snow returns to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Prison Break revival series planned by Fox with Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers