It has recently been reported that an 18th Century tapestry belonging to Comte Bernard de la Rochefoucauld and looted from the Château de Versainville during the Nazi occupation of France has been voluntarily returned by the University of Sheffield in the UK.
The tapestry, which had been taken from the Comte’s residence, was later bought by the University on the open market in 1959. Recently, with plans to sell the piece, the University consulted the Art Loss Register (ALR) to verify the tapestry’s provenance. It was through the ALR that the University was able to determine that it had indeed been taken from Versainville.
Without lengthy negotiations or costly litigation, the University decided to send the tapestry back to Versainville. As Julian Radcliffe, head of recovery at the ALR, has said:
“But there are no laws that would have forced the university to return it like this. That is undoubtedly an act of generosity.”
In fact, such ‘acts of generosity’ will be the focus of an ArtResolve symposium on stolen cultural objects and voluntary acts of return to be held at St Olave’s Church in London on 4th September 2014. The event will be entitled Acts of Grace and will run from 2 pm to 5.30 pm. The church is located in the City, near Fenchurch St, at 8 Hart St, London EC3R 7NB.
The event has yet to be officially announced, so watch this space for more details.