NORMAN — A French woman is appealing to the people of Oklahoma to return a painting that the Nazis seized from her family during World War II.
"Shepherdess Bringing In Sheep," a painting by French impressionist artist Camille Pissarro, was seized as part of the personal collection of Raoul Meyer, a Jewish businessman in Paris, during the Nazi occupation of France. The painting hangs in the University of Oklahoma?s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.
In an open letter to the people of Oklahoma, Leone Meyer, a Jewish woman who lives in Paris, asks for the return of Camille Pissarro's “Shepherdess Bringing In Sheep,” which is hanging in the University of Oklahoma's Fred Jones Jr. Museum.
In the letter dated Tuesday, Meyer said seeking the return of the painting “carries within it a tremendous emotional burden.”
The letter, written in French and translated into English, recounts Meyer's own experience in the Holocaust. Her entire biological family was rounded up and died at Auschwitz between 1942 and 1944. Meyer survived the Holocaust and was adopted by Raoul and Yvonne Meyer in 1946.
The painting was part of a larger collection of works that Nazi troops stole from Raoul Meyer during the Nazi occupation of France. Raoul Meyer recovered most of the works, but a few hadn't been found when he died in the 1970s.
Leone Meyer is suing OU to try to recover the painting, but university officials have disputed her claim.
In the letter, Meyer says her efforts to recover the painting are part of her duty to both her biological family and her adoptive family.
“Do not think for a moment that any of this is easy,” she writes. “It forces me to question my whole existence. I am not in the habit of forgetting my roots, nor the debt that I owe to those who raised me.”