The Financial Times 25 July 2015
Letter from Humphrey Wine, Curator of 17th and 18th Century French Paintings,
National Gallery London.
Sir, As Julian Agnew (Letters, July 18
) points out in connection with looted art, lack of provenance does not necessarily imply something suspect. This was the point that the National Gallery had in mind when in March 1999, in co-operation with Martin Bailey of The Art Newspaper, it published a list of pictures in its collection the provenance of which was incomplete for the period 1933-45. This was, I believe, the first such list published by any public institution worldwide, and was done in response to a request by the UK government made to all national museums to prepare and publish such lists.
In fact there were 120 paintings listed by the gallery in 1999, not 300 as Mr Agnew recalls, and it is incorrect that there has been “only one claim”. No claim at all has been made in respect of any of them. The Gallery’s list, which can be accessed at www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/glossary/provenance
, is kept under review as and when new information comes to light. When the list was published by The Art Newspaper it invited readers to contact me with any further information to help fill in the provenance gaps. That remains the case. Humphrey Wine
Curator of 17th and 18th Century French Paintings,
The National Gallery