Significant Restitutions

1999 – The Seattle Art Museum returns Matisse’s "Odalisque" to Rosenbergs

Matisse’s Oriental Woman Seated on the Floor (also known as Odalisque) was one of approximately 162 paintings confiscated in 1941 by the Nazi authorities from Paul Rosenberg, a prominent Jewish art dealer based in Paris. The painting made its way to the United States in 1954, when the New York art gallery Knoedler & Co. acquired it from the Paris based Galerie Drouant-David and then immediately sold it to Prentice and Virginia Bloedel. Almost 40 years later, the Bloedel family bequeathed the painting to the Seattle Art Museum.

In 1997, through fortuitous circumstances, the heirs of Paul Rosenberg discovered the location of their long-lost painting. At first, the Seattle Art Museum refused to return the painting but obtained a “tolling agreement” to gain some time to evaluate the situation. Through research and independent investigation by the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, the museum determined the exact provenance of Matisse’s painting, matching the records of Paul Rosenberg’s heirs. In June 1999, the Seattle Art Museum returned the painting to the heirs of Paul Rosenberg.