The mystery of the Nazi and the Denbighshire lady


Shane Brennan

A PORTRAIT of a Denbighshire noble woman was once owned by one of history’s most infamous characters.

It has been confirmed by the National Museum Wales that Hermann Wilhelm Goering, Hilter's right hand man and founder of the Gestapo had an acclaimed portrait of Welsh noblewoman Catrin o Ferain, in his possession at the end of the Second World War.

The portrait’s amazing story is revealed in the S4C documentary Mamwlad gyda Ffion Hague to be broadcast on Sunday.

Whilet filming the six-part series Ffion Hague spoke to Helen Williams-Ellis, who's related to Catrin through marriage and is currently working on a biography of the figure who was one of the most influential women in Wales during the Tudor period.

Helen Williams-Ellis had heard that Catrin o Ferain's portrait had once been part of Göring's art collection. Ffion Hague and the production team at Tinopolis then wasted no time in getting in touch with Oliver Fairclough, keeper of art at the National Museum Wales to see if the story could be confirmed.

Oliver Fairclough said, “The portrait of Catrin was bought by the Museum through a London art dealer in 1957. The Goering story first appeared in the press in the 1960s, and although there was evidence that the painting had been for sale in Amsterdam at the time of the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, we were not then able to establish what had happened to it afterwards.

“We have established that it was indeed bought from an Amsterdam art dealer on Göring’s behalf in November 1940, and that it was returned by the Occupation authorities to the same Dutch dealer in December 1945.

“Goering assembled a massive art collection – sometimes with at least a semblance of legality as in this case. It was nevertheless astonishing to find that this Welsh icon was one of these.”

See full story in the Free Press

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