By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) - Descendants of Jewish lawyer and art collector Armand Dorville received three works of art Wednesday that were stolen by the Nazis during the WWII occupation in France.
The German government returned the artwork to the family of the original owner, pieces that were confiscated almost eight decades ago.
One drawing and two paintings comprise the artwork. The drawing is by Constantin Guys, a Dutch-born Frenchman who was a Crimean war correspondent. Both paintings are by Jean-Louis Forain. One is entitled "Dame en robe du soir,” or “Woman in an evening gown.” The other "Portrait d'une dame,” or “Portrait of a woman.”
The works are part of 1,500 pieces allegedly stolen by the Nazis and found in the apartment of German-Austrian collector Cornelius Gurlitt in Munich.
Gurlitt's father, Hildebrand, who was half-Jewish, had been retained by the Nazis to sell works looted from Jewish owners.
The occupation in France lasted from 1941 to 1944. Dorville died in 1941 and his collection was distributed to museums and galleries around the world.
"It is no longer possible to make up for the suffering of the Dorville family under the Nazi persecution," German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Monika Gruetters, said in a statement to Agence France Presse. "But we must render them visible, and this restitution comprises an important gesture of historic justice.”
In France, a new service was created by the Ministry of Culture last year specifically to return stolen art to families called the “Mission of research and restitution of cultural property looted between 1933 and 1945."
The government has made headway in returning half of the nearly 100,000 works that were sold under duress or stolen during occupation.