A Paul Cézanne painting went on view Tuesday for the first time since before World War II, following an agreement between Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Bern and the artist’s family. The painting, La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1897), is one of the most famous of the trove of Nazi-looted works found in the Munich home of Cornelius Gurlitt during 2012 raids. Gurlitt’s father Hildebrand Gurlitt was described by The Art Newspaper as “a dealer for the Nazis who bought works that had been plundered from Jews or sold by Jews desperate to leave Germany.” This particular Cézanne, however, was untraceable after 1940—up until then, it had been in the possession of Cézanne’s family. Nina Zimmer, the director of the Kunstmuseum Bern, said the work was confiscated by Nazis in Paris, but then returned to the owners, who were not persecuted by the Nazis.
Gurlitt had bequeathed the Cézanne and hundreds of other works to the Kunstmuseum Bern following his 2014 death, and selections from the bequest were first displayed in the fall of 2017. La Montagne Sainte-Victoire comes on view after an agreement between the museum and Philippe Cézanne, the artist’s grandson. In exchange for acknowledging that the Kunstmuseum Bern owns the work after it was willed to them by Gurlitt, Philippe Cézanne earned the right to put it on view at the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence, where the artist lived.