Austria yesterday returned a painting by Edvard Munch, called
Summer Night on the Beach
, to Marina Fistoulari-Mahler, the granddaughter of composer Gustav Mahler, ending a 60-year legal battle.
The painting had hung in Vienna's Belvedere museum since 1940. It was given to Alma Mahler-Werfel by architect Walter Gropius, to mark the birth of their daughter. Mahler-Werfel, who was married to Mahler before she became Gropius' wife, lent the Munch and four other works to the Belvedere, then called the Oesterreichische Galerie, in 1937.
Together with her third husband, poet Franz Werfel, she left Austria the day after Hitler annexed it. After she fled, a relative took ownership of the painting and sold it to the museum without her permission.
Mahler-Werfel first tried in 1947 to get the painting back. She kept up the fight until her death in New York in 1964. Her granddaughter, Marina Mahler, the sole surviving heir, then took over.