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The BBC's Liz Mackean
"Painting was a wedding present"
 real 28k

Monday, 13 March, 2000, 13:37 GMT
Picture looted by Nazis returned
descendants in front of picture
The owner's descendants say the painting means a lot to them
A painting looted by the Nazis has been handed over at a British art gallery to the descendants of the original owner.

The Three Stages of Life, painted in 1898 by Count Leopold von Kalckreuth, was left by Elizabeth Gotthilf in Vienna in 1938 when she fled Austria with her husband and children in the wake of the Nazi takeover.

The picture has been on display at London's Royal Academy, on loan from the Neue Pinakothek in Munich.

On Monday, more than 60 years after it was looted, a representative of the German authorities handed the picture over to Mrs Gotthilf's descendents, Ernest and Marietta Glanville, from London.

It is the first work being exhibited in Britain to become the object of restitution by The Commission for Looted Art in Europe.

Long battle

The painting was obtained in 1942 from a private Viennese collection by the Bavarian State Collection of Paintings, which was unaware of the identity of the original owner. It cost them 15,000 Reichsmarks.

We are delighted justice has finally been done

The Glanville family
The family - which changed its name from Gotthilf to Glanville on arrival in the UK - began searching for it in 1948 and in 1971 tracked it down to Munich.

But despite consistent pleas by Elizabeth Glanville the Munich authorities refused to return the painting to her family.

Mrs Glanville died in 1983.

Following a renewed plea by her surviving family for reassessment of the picture's provenance, the Commission for Looted Art in Europe conducted research which led to the decision to return the work.

'Great sentimental value'

Mrs Glanville, who will not be able to take permanent ownership until it has finished its current tour in September, said: "Today's joy is tinged with regret that our mother is not alive to witness the restitution of the picture.

"It has meant a lot to us, it's an icon of my childhood. It has great sentimental value. It was given to my mother as a wedding present."

She said: "Our hope now is that other victims of Nazi persecutions will have their pictures, their treasures, restored to them."

It is unclear how much the painting is worth at today's values but the family has made it clear it has no intention of selling it.

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See also:

26 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Brushing out the taint of looted art
13 Mar 00 | Europe
Austria 'holding stolen art'
04 Jun 99 | UK
Stolen Nazi art returned
02 Mar 99 | Entertainment
National Gallery investigates Nazi links
04 Dec 97 | Nazi Gold
The greatest theft in history
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