Mapping The Limits Of Repatriable Cultural Heritage: A Case Study Of Stolen Flemish Art In French Museums
This Comment explores the current legal paradox that allows for the repatriation of art taken during World War II while maintaining stolen Flemish art in the Louvre for eternity. Part I discusses the Napoleonic revolution and the creation of French museums relying on stolen European masterpieces for their collections. Even though the Second Treaty of Paris required some restitution of Italian and Austrian art, Flemish art taken by French troops remained in France even after peace was declared. Part II analyzes the development of the law of restitution from Roman prize law through World War II and presents examples of how nations today attempt formal and informal repatriation claims. Part III presents an argument for why France should return Flemish art to Belgium and describes what legal routes Belgium might take to retrieve its works of art.
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John D. Graham