A museum in Amsterdam is finally returning a coveted painting to the legal heirs of a Jewish collector whose family was decimated during the Holocaust.

The painting named “Odalisque,” completed in the early 1920s during Henri Matisse’s pioneering modernist period, had been on display at the Stedelijk Museum ever since it illegally acquired the piece in 1941. However, following a binding recommendation by the Netherlands’ Restitutions Committee, Amsterdam officials on Wednesday acknowledged the mistake and ordered restitution.

“To the extent that anything can be repaired from the great injustice done to them, we as a society have a moral obligation to act accordingly,” Amsterdam City Council member Touria Meliani said in a statement.

“The return of works of art, such as the ‘Odalisque’ painting, can mean a lot to the victims and is of great importance for the recognition of the injustice done to them. As a city, we have a role and responsibility in this.”

The story behind the painting is truly tragic.

Albert Stern and his family endured years of systematic dehumanization and economic strangulation by Hitler’s race laws in 1933. It was in this climate of brutality that Stern liquidated his prized Odalisque to fund an escape from Europe. However, after being denied visas to free countries like the US, Mexico, and Brazil, the Stern family was arrested and deported to concentration camps where all but Albert’s wife and two grandchildren perished.

For over 80 years, Stedelijk Museum’s display of this blood-stained artwork represented a callous reminder of Hitler’s campaign to materially divest European Jewry of their personal property as a precursor to the Final Solution

Finally justice is being served.

    Sara June 27, 2024 8:19 pm

    This is good news. That being said nothing can make up for or repair what was done to the Jewish people. We now better wake up and stand up to antisemitism Never again is now.

    Devorah F. June 29, 2024 5:15 pm

    Love JBN but that’s not a Matisse.
    You posted a painting by French artist
    Jean-Léon Gérôme.

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