Constable painting looted by Nazis to be sold at auction
The return of the Painting would be an act of symbolic reparation for this suffering.UK Spoliation Advisory Panel Beaching a Boat, Brighton (1824) is being sold by Hatvany’s heirs, who had maintained that Tate should relinquish ownership of the painting.The museum took the unusual step of asking the panel to consider further evidence – claiming an export licence issued by the Hungarian government undermined claims it was Nazi loot.The Tate’s then director, Sir Nicholas Serota wrote to the head of the panel, Sir Donnell Deeny, suggesting it was “highly unlikely” the Hungarian government would have issued an export licence “for a work known to be on the black market”.However, the panel concluded the Hungarian post-war art dealer Karola Fabri had in all likelihood applied for the licence to give her claim to the ownership of the painting an air of legitimacy. The painting had been donated to the Tate in 1986 by a Mrs P.M. Rainsford and was said by the gallery to be a central part of its Constable collection.It had been acquired by Baron Hatvany in 1908. In 1942, when Budapest was threatened by Allied bombing, Hatvany put the Constable in the vaults of the Hungarian General Credit Bank, along with other works, from where it was later looted by the invading Germans. In 1947 the Baron fled to Paris to escape the new Communist government, and died in Lausanne in 1958.He had four children and it is their descendants who lodged the recent claim.The panel agreed that the painting had been particularly significant to the Hatvany family “from a sentimental and emotional point of view”.It said that the family suffered terribly during the German and Soviet occupations of Hungary.As well as losing all their possessions, several members of the family were murdered in Hungary by anti-Semitic mobs killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.“The return of the painting would be an act of symbolic reparation for this suffering,” the panel agreed.The Constable, measuring 26cm by 30cm, is among the most valuable of the 20 cases considered by the UK Spoliation Advisory Panel.It was one of the first works he produced during his visits to the south coast of England.Beaching a Boat was inherited by Constable’s daughter Isabel, who died in 1888. It was sold at Christie’s in 1892 to Walter Dowdeswell, a London art dealer, before being eventually bought by Baron Hatvany. A painting by John Constable which was looted by the Nazis is to be auctioned after the Tate lost its claim to the work.The museum had initially disputed claims that the painting, Beaching a Boat, Brighton, had been looted during German occupation of Hungary.But the UK’s Spoliation Advisory Panel ruled that the work had been one of thousands of works of art stolen by the Nazis during World War Two.The ruling paved the way for the descendants of the painting’s last legal owner, Baron Ferenc Hatvany, to sell the piece.It will be auctioned at Christies next month with an estimated price of £600,000-£800,000. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.