11.09.2011

Stolen in 1818 ...

I've always had a soft spot for the French painter Nicholas Tournier, so I was fascinated to hear that this painting, stolen from a French church in 1818, had been seized by the French government in Paris off the London art dealers Weiss.
A friend that works for an Old Master gallery and I were discussing it yesterday, and neither of us had heard of a similar case. The painting was stolen almost two hundred years ago, and seems to have passed through the hands of several well known dealers this year.
To add spice to the story, there were questions recently concerning its authenticity. Tournier was only 'rediscovered' in recent decades, with the first retrospective in 2001 in Toulouse, but he was popular in his day and widely copied in the years after his death. The extent of his studio production is still not entirely clear.
My guess is the possession is nine tenths of the law, but since there is no precedent, what will happen to the painting is anyone's guess.

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