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Lost paintings at the Israel Museum

by michael February 21 2008
Things to do

Not only was the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews the most terrible and most brutally effective genocide the world has ever witnessed, it was also the greatest art theft of all time. Nazi forces enthusiastically looted the art-bedecked homes of cultured European Jews, and even after more than sixty years, many of the stolen paintings have never been returned to their owners or their owners' descendants. So it seems fitting that those unclaimed paintings would find their way to the Jewish state, where a great number of them are currently on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The French curator of the exhibition, Isabelle le Masne de Charmont, says her government decided to assemble the works partly as a tribute to memory, but also to show the efforts made by France, even now, more than 60 years after the war, to find the rightful owners of the artwork.

The unclaimed works of art have also been archived online for the public to view, in an effort to help return more art.

Whether its paintings are Monets or minor works by unknown artists, this exhibition is about more than art.


It is about the history of those who stole it and the people the works were stolen from. For some of those visiting the Israel Museum, the paintings are a last tangible link to a family lost or a past destroyed.

Jerusalemite highly recommends taking advantage of this rare opportunity to see fine art and recent history intersect. 


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