The Museum of Fine Arts, MSK, in Ghent on Wednesday returned two paintings that had been left there for about 78 years, to the heirs of their original owner. The paintings were left at MSK by Emile David in 1940, for a temporary exposition in Antwerp. They remained there until Wednesday, when they were handed over to Mr. David’s daughter.
The paintings, ‘Naakt met sleep’ (Sleeping Nude) and ‘Zittende naakte’ (Sitting nude), are both by the Flemish painter Frits Van den Berghe. The reason why their owner did not go back for them is unknown, but is most likely linked to the outbreak of World War II. Alderman Annelies Storms, in charge of Culture on Ghent’s City Council, stresses that there is no question here of the theft of a work of art.
“The consequences of the chaos and atrocity of the Second World War are still visible today,” notes Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters. “It is therefore important for us to try and help the victims of the conflict and their relatives to recover their lost objects. I am therefore particularly happy that the Department of Economic Affairs, in collaboration with MSK, succeeded in returning these two works to the family of Emile David”.