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June 30, 2011

Update on Lucas' "Cranach's Adam and Eve" at The Norton Simon Museum: Laura Gilbert's Blog "Art Unwashed" Comments on "Supreme Court Declines to Hear Art Restitution Cases"

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Laura Gilbert, through her Art Unwashed blog, reported Monday June 27th that the Supreme Court decided not to hear Von Staher v. Norton Simon Museum which we have covered extensively on the ARCA blog ["The Norton Simon Museum's Adam and Eve Part I and II" here and here, "The Stroganoff Collection in 1800 by Alexander Stroganoff"]. Her comments on the case are of course thoughtful and well-worth reading. As a member of the Norton Simon Museum and as a resident of Pasadena living within a one-mile walk of the Lucas Cranach paintings, I will confess to being very attached to them staying in California. However, I would like to comment that research does support that these paintings were purchased by Jacques Goudstikker in Berlin in 1931 and that the Jewish art dealer was forced to flee Amsterdam by the Nazis in 1940. His Black Notebook clearly states that these paintings were owned by him at the time of his death and later transferred to the Nazis in a force sale. Provenance research by myself -- and by The Getty Research Institute -- has not supported the Dutch government's decision in the 1960s to turn over the paintings to an heir of the Stroganoff family who then sold them to Norton Simon. Someday I will share with readers my misadventures and the countless twists and turns I have taken in trying to find any mention of Lucas Cranach's "Adam" and "Eve" in the Stroganoff Collection -- it is a fascinating story for those of us who love to research, however, the only conclusion would have to be that they never were owned by any member of the Stroganoff family before the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The question left to me after months and hours of research is how did this paintings end up in a church in the Ukraine?