The Visitation: Glasgow City Council to pay family over Nazi-looted artwork

The tapestry fragment dates to 16th-century Switzerland

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The Independent Online

Glasgow City Council has agreed to pay the heir of a German-born Jewish woman over an artwork looted by the Nazis, which was placed in one of Scotland’s best-known museums.

A fragment of a Swiss tapestry dating back to the 16 century called The Visitation is at the centre of the deal, after it was placed in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

The tapestry, measuring 81cm x 78cm, depicts a pregnant Virgin Mary and Saint Elizabeth, who would go on to give birth to Saint John the Baptist. The segment is from a larger  piece, and has been fashioned into the shape of an ecclesiastical cope hood.

A pay-out amount has been agreed by the authority after an expert panel considered the case put forward by Emma Budge, an heir of the tapestry’s previous owner.

Its former owner Mrs Budge was an art collector born in Hamburg, who obtained American citizenship, and lived with her husband Henry in the US for many years.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the couple became well-to-do thanks to Mr Budge’s involvement in banking and the expansion of the railways.

However, after Mrs Budge died in Hamburg in 1937, her family was forced to sell her art collection.

That year, the tapestry came into the possession of a man named John Hunt, from whom Sir William Burrell bought it on August 8 1938.

Over a number of years, he transferred his vast collection of around 9,000 cultural objects - including the tapestry - to Glasgow.

A panel from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's Spoliation Advisory Panel, which considers claims from over cultural property looted by the Nazi, assessed Emma Budge’s case and concluded that an ex-gratia payment reflecting the current market value should be made.

Councillor Archie Graham, depute leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Glasgow has led the way in attempting to identify objects that may have been acquired as a result of Nazi atrocities and has been posting details of objects where provenance may not be certain on the UK Government's website since 1998.

"In cases where a claim is proven, the city has always been resolute that it has a moral duty to put right the mistakes of the past, no matter how long the passage of time."

He added that it had previously indicated that it would follow the panel's recommendations.


Additional reporting by PA