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US to return statue stolen from Mussolini’s villa

Export Bar for Giacometti's Femme | Royal Collection Trust Refuses Art UK Permission to Display Works | Settlement Reached over Looted Pissarro | Philadelphia Museum of Art Receives Historic Bequest

26 February 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

US to Return Statue Stolen from Villa Torlonia | The FBI and the US Attorney’s Office have announced that a marble statue stolen from a Roman villa more than 30 years ago is to be returned to Italy. The Villa Torlonia was formerly the residence of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who lived there from 1925 until he was imprisoned in 1943. The statue itself, which depicts a female figure in drapery, disappeared on the night of 11 November 1983 along with more than a dozen other items, and surfaced in a New York gallery in the late 1990s before being purchased by its current owner. It will enter the collection at the Villa Torlonia, which is now a museum.

Export Bar for Giacometti’s Femme | UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti’s 1928–29 sculpture Femme, which may well leave the country unless a UK buyer can be found before 24 May, with a further stay of execution until 24 September if serious intention to raise the funds is expressed. The sculpture is thought to be the only plaster work by Giacometti in the UK, and was something of a totem for British artists including Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. According to RCEWA member Richard Calvocoressi: ‘This is one of Giacometti’s most simplified female figures – flat, almost abstract, its pure white forms pared down to bare essentials. Works such as this had a huge influence on the development of modern sculpture.’ Whether the £2,083,500 needed to keep the work on British soil can be found in the next few months, remains to be seen.

Royal Collection Trust Refuses Art UK Permission to Display Works | The thousands of paintings bought by or given to the Royal Family will not, for now at least, be included on the Art UK database, a new initiative aimed at digitising all of Britain’s publicly owned works of art (see Art News Daily : 24 February). According to the Times (£), the Royal Collection Trust has refused to clarify whether it is a public or private collection, stating only that its holdings were ‘held in trust on behalf of the nation.’

Settlement Reached over Looted Pissarro | The University of Oklahoma has reached a settlement with Léone Meyer over a work by Camille Pissarro that was stolen by the Nazis in 1941 and later left to the school’s Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art. According to The Art Newspaper, La bergère rentrant des moutons (1886), which was seized from Meyer’s adoptive family, will now be exhibited alternately in a French institution and in Oklahoma, and will travel to France for the first time in decades this summer. Meyer was able to track down the work using the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) database, which profiles thousands of works taken from Jewish collectors during the Second World War.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Receives Historic Bequest | The Philadelphia Museum of Art has received a bequest of more than 50 works of art from the late collector Daniel W. Dietrich II, along with an endowment gift of $10 million from Dietrich’s charitable funds. Among the works bequeathed to the museum are offerings by artists including Philip Guston, Edward Hopper, Cy Twombly and Agnes Martin.

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