Restitution of Vermeer Painting: Ministry Asks Commission and Advisory Board to Investigate Based on Provisions of the Law on Restitution – A Clear and Transparent Decision

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (09/05/2009)

Vienna – The Ministry of Education and Culture which assumes responsibility for Federal museums will act according to the Law of Restitution by having the Commission on Provenance Research as well as the Restitution Advisory Board investigate the request by the heirs of Jaromir Czernin for return of the painting, “The Art of Painting” by Jan Vermeer housed in Vienna’s Art History Museum. The family’s request will be treated like all others, said the press secretary for Claudia Schmied, Minister of Education and Culture. 

“We are for a very clear and transparent decision,” emphasized the Ministry. The Minister has always said that she is adhering to the recommendations of the Restitution Advisory Board. One cannot currently say how long the proceedings might last.

In a letter submitted to the Republic of Austria, the heirs of the Jaromir Czernin family are requesting the return of the painting. Czernin sold the painting in 1940 to Adolf Hitler for the Führer’s museum planned to be built in Linz. The Czernin family is of the opinion that the decision was made under duress, in reference to a report conducted by provenance researcher, Michael Wladika. The painting which was completed in 1665 hangs in Vienna’s Art History Museum since 1946 and is considered the finest painting by the Dutch painter.