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After Legal Fight, Nazi-Looted Painting Given Back To The University Of Oklahoma

A painting plundered by Nazi soldiers will be coming to Norman this summer. The journey back to Oklahoma has been a winding and controversial one.

Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep, Camille Pissarro (1886)
Public Doman
Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep, Camille Pissarro (1886)

Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro's 1886 work "Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep" had belonged to the family of 81-year-old Holocaust survivor Léone-Noëlle Meyer until it was stolen by Nazis during World War II.

It made its way to Oklahoma in the mid-1950s when it was purchased by the Weitzenhoffer family who later donated it to the University of Oklahoma.

Meyer had wanted the painting to stay in France, where she lives. But a 2016 agreement meant the work would rotate between the Fred Jones Jr. Museum in Norman and
Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

French museums seemed uninterested in handling the costs and logistics of that arrangement. So Meyer went to French court to try to prevent the work from coming back to Oklahoma. That legal maneuver ultimately failed.

"Mrs Meyer has decided to put an end to her struggle to obtain restitution of this painting," Meyer's lawyer, Ron Soffer, said. "The University of Oklahoma has now obtained full title to the painting. As far as Mrs Meyer is concerned, they are free to do with it as they please."

OU will hold onto the painting while searching for an institution willing to shepherd it back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean every three years.

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Robby Korth joined StateImpact Oklahoma in October 2019, focusing on education reporting.
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