Art museum (stock image)
Art museum (stock image) ISTOCK

The largest art museum in Belgium has restituted a painting to a Jewish family after 71 years.

Musees royaux des Beaux-Arts (Royal Museums of Fine Arts) has given back a painting by German artist Lovis Corinth to the great-grandchildren of a Jewish couple whose art was looted by the Nazis after they were forced to flee as World War Two began, Reuters reported.

The family, who do not live in Belgium, hired a Berlin-based law firm over five years ago to seek the return of the painting from the museum.

“Altogether the family is looking for 30 artworks,” their lawyer Imke Gielen said at a ceremony during which the painting was taken down. “This is the first that has been really identified because unfortunately we have no images of the missing paintings.”

The painting consists of pink flowers in a blue vase. It was part of the art collection of Gustav and Emma Mayer, who had left Frankfurt, Germany in 1938 and moved to Brussels, Belgium until they could arrange to flee to the UK in August 1939. They were unable to take much with them, including their collection of 30 paintings. The art was subsequently looted by the Nazis.

In 1951, the Belgian government gave the painting to the museum, where it had remained until now.

The museum began a campaign in 2008 on its website asking for information on the provenance of the painting. On Thursday, they also opened two galleries containing Nazi-looted art.