The hunt is underway for the rightful owner of the French painting looted by the Nazis | World news

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A 19th century oil painting stolen from Nazi-occupied France during WWII has been exhibited in an attempt to trace its rightful owners, after being returned by the son of the German soldier who was ordered to take it.After 76 years in Germany, the untitled small work of art by French painter Nicolas Rousseau is back in France and on display at the World Center for Peace, Freedom and Human Rights in the northeastern city of Verdun.

Next to it is a sign that says: “If you recognize the landscape or have any information about this painting, we would be grateful if you could let us know.”

Philippe Hansch, the director of the center, brought the painting back from Berlin by car in early August.

For the past two weeks, it has been hung in the hall of the center, which receives 60,000 visitors a year, in the hope of reviving someone’s memory and bringing the painting back to its owners or their heirs.

“We wanted it to be immediately accessible to visitors when they enter and free of charge,” said Hansch. “There is pride and emotion, a lot of happiness, but also a responsibility.”

In the artwork, a figure sits on a bank of the river under a cloudy sky, surrounded by tall trees and with a village in the distance.

Rousseau was a member of the Barbizon School of Painters, which embraced naturalism in art.

According to Hansch, the real value of the work goes well beyond its market value of € 3,000 to € 5,000 (£ 2,700 to £ 4,500).

“The painting is a great symbol of Franco-German friendship and allows the story of World War II to be told with a fresh perspective on the French side and the German side,” he said.

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