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Master taken by Goering returns; Painting back in Birmingham after Jewish owner gave it to Nazi as bribe to escape.

Byline: Sanjeeta Bains Features

AFAMOUS painting given as a bribe to Nazi Hermann Goering to secure an art dealer's freedom is to go on show in Birmingham.

The old master handed over to Hitler's deputy was originally hanging in the the city when the Second World War broke out.

But Jan Steen's Samson and Delilah, painted in 1668, ended up in the hands of the German vice-chancellor after a remarkable trade.

The painting was first brought to Birmingham's Barber Institute in May 1939 by Jewish art dealer Kurt Walter Bachstitz, along with teen's other famous work, The Wrath of Ahasuerus. It was seen as a coup for the Edgbaston gallery at the time.

Bachstitz eventually took it back to his principal gallery in The Hague, but when the Nazis invaded and occupied The Netherlands in May 1940, the art dealer was imprisoned.

To secure his freedom, and almost certainly his life, he had to bribe Goering with the Samson and Delilah oil painting and two necklaces.

Bachstitz emigrated to neutral Switzerland, where he sat out the war. He returned later with his wife to live in The Hague, where he died in 1949.

But the remarkable tale did not end there.

After Goering was captured, Samson and Delilah was among works recovered and restituted to Bachstitz's estate.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art bought the painting in the 1980s.

Now it is coming back to Birmingham where the story started, and will go on show at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, at the University of Birmingham, this week.

It will be presented as part of the exhibition Pride and Persecution: Jan Steen's Old Testament Scenes, which runs from Friday October 27 to January 21 next year.

Barber deputy director Robert Wenley said: "Jan Steen is often thought of as a painter of comic and often chaotic, gently moralising genre scenes.

"But these perhaps less familiar paintings depicting Old Testament stories fully exemplify Steen's unparalleled abilities as a narrative artist. "It is also poignant to have these two particular paintings reunited in the gallery - dramatic masterpieces with their own fascinating stories of Jewish history in World War 2. "That Samson and Delilah came to be owned by Goering, one of the chief persecutors of Jews, lends it a particular poignancy."


<B Samson and Delilah ended up in the hands of Nazi Hermann Goering, below left, after it was traded so its owner could escape Germany

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 26, 2017
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