Piece by German artist Lovis Corinth was entrusted to Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels

Approximately 80 years after it was looted by the Nazis, an expressionist painting has been returned to the descendants of a German-Jewish couple by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, reports the Guardian.

Flowers, a 1913 still life by the German artist Lovis Corinth, was entrusted to the museums in 1951, because postwar investigators were unable to trace the original owners.

After years of research, the painting has been returned, the first restitution of any artwork looted from a Jewish family in the second world war by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, which covers six museums, with works spanning the old masters to Magritte.

Thomas Dermine, Belgium’s secretary of state in charge of museums, handed the work to a lawyer representing the nine great-grandchildren of Gustav and Emma Mayer, a German-Jewish couple who fled Germany in 1938.

“This restitution, the first by the Museums of Fine Arts, is a very strong signal: even decades later, justice can triumph,” Dermine said. The return of the painting was also “an opportunity to remind people of the horrors” to which nationalism and the far right could lead, he said. “To repair is to remember and to remember is to avoid the return of the worst.”

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