Nazi-looted medieval painting returns to Italy

A 14th-century painting looted by Nazi troops from the Tuscan home of a US collector was put on display in Milan on Tuesday after being recovered by Italy's art police.

Nazi-looted medieval painting returns to Italy
"Dormitio Virginis", by Andrea Di Bartolo is on display at Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. Photo: Wikipedia

The painting is a representation of the death of the Virgin Mary – a scene known as "Dormitio Virginis" – by Andrea Di Bartolo, a Sienese School painter who died in Siena in 1428.

It was stolen from the villa of Frederick Mason Perkins in Lastra a Signa near Florence in 1944 and first ended up in Canada, then Britain, the Italian news agency ANSA reported

Police are working on recovering other artwork taken from the home of Perkins, an art dealer and collector who was held prisoner in Perugia with his wife during World War II.

The painting is on display at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan but will then be handed over to the Catholic diocese of Assisi – the recipient designated by the Perkins family.

ANSA said the painting may have been spotted by police when it was put up for sale by a British auction house with a starting price of 164,800 pounds(€200,000, $276,000).

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Art stolen from prince by Nazis turns up in Italian home

Three fifteenth-century paintings which were stolen from the Prince of Luxembourg's Tuscan villa by Nazi forces in 1944 have been found in Italy.

Art stolen from prince by Nazis turns up in Italian home
Italian police have found three Renaissance masterpieces stolen by Nazis during WWII. Photo: Caribinieri

The paintings were smuggled out of Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma's plush villa in Camaiore, a city within Lucca province, and subsequently taken to Dornsburg castle in north-eastern Bolzano, where the head of the SS in Italy, General Karl Wolff, had set up his headquarters.

Felix, the son of the deposed Duke of Parma, married Luxembourg's monarch, the Grand Duchess Charlotte in 1919. 

During the war, Allied soldiers even raided the castle, filled with stolen art, in order to recapture some of the works – events which formed the basis for George Clooney's 2014 film 'Monuments Men'.

The prince's stolen paintings were never found, with the Italian state compensating him in 1945 for the value of the stolen pieces after he filed a post-war damages claim against the government.

But in December 2014, the first of the three paintings – a portrait of the Madonna and child by Renaissance painter Gianni Battista Cima – was found by police in the Monza home of a Milan-based family.

The painting, found among the family's collection during a routine investigation into art documentation, was said to have been inherited from a deceased art-dealing relative, but it is not known how the painting come into the relative's possession. 

The stolen picture of the Madonna and child, by Gianni Battista Cima. Photo: Caribinieri

During subsequent investigations, two more stolen artworks came to light: a tempera on wood panel showing the Holy Trinity by early Renaissance painter Alessio Baldovinetti and a painting showing Jesus at the temple by Girolamo dai Libri.

The paintings were seized by police and have now been entrusted to the Brera Art Gallery in Milan, where they were presented to the press on Monday.