The painting, “Landscape of Italian Character,” by 18th century Austrian artist Johann Franz Nepomuk Lauterer, will soon be displayed in Munich.
After a stopover in the US that lasted the better part of a century, a baroque landscape painting that went missing during World War II was returned to Germany, on Thursday 19 October.
The FBI handed over the artwork by 18th century Austrian artist Johann Franz Nepomuk Lauterer (1700 – 1733) to a German museum representative in a brief ceremony at the German Consulate in Chicago, where the pastoral piece showing an Italian countryside was on display.
Art Recovery International, a company focused on locating and recovering stolen and looted art, tracked down the elusive painting after a person in Chicago reached out last year claiming to possess a “stolen or looted painting” that their uncle brought back to the US after serving in World War II.
The painting has been missing since 1945 and was first reported stolen from the Bavarian State Painting Collections in Munich, Germany. It was added to the database of the German Lost Art Foundation in 2012, according to a statement from the art recovery company.
“The crux of our work at Art Recovery International is the research and restitution of artworks looted by Nazis and discovered in public or private collections. On occasion, we come across cases, such as this, where allied soldiers may have taken objects home as souvenirs or as trophies of wars," said Christopher Marinello, founder of Art Recovery International.
"Being on the winning side doesn’t make it right,” he added.
The painting, titled “Landscape of Italian Character,” will now reunite with its counterpart, which shares similar motifs and imagery, according to the museum.
The two paintings together form a panoramic scene featuring shepherds and travelers with their goats, cows, donkeys and sheep at a ford in a river.
The pair will soon be displayed together for the first time since World War II at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, according to Bernd Ebert, the museum's chief curator of Dutch and German baroque paintings.