Health Editor’s Note: One could question why the Jewish population, at the time of WWII, owned so much artwork done by famed artists. The German economy was suffering due to sanctions placed on Germans after WWI….Carol
Emmanuelle Polack made the discovery less than one month after she was brought on board to study the museum’s ill-gotten artwork
by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
When World War II broke out, Parisian lawyer Armand Dorville owned a collection of more than 450 works by famed artists like Pierre Bonnard, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Édouard Manet. But after the Nazis invaded Paris in 1940, the Jewish lawyer was forced to abandon this trove, fleeing to his chateau in the country’s southern “free zone,” where he died of natural causes one year later. In Dorville’s absence, the Nazis seized his collection and auctioned it off in Nice over the course of four days in 1942.
Now, reports Philippe Dagen for Le Monde, art historian Emmanuelle Polack has identified ten pieces from Dorville’s cache in the Louvre’s collections, paving the way for the looted artworks’ return to his great-niece and heir.
Per Dorville’s will, the lawyer hoped to donate some of his collection to French museums including the Louvre and the Musée Carnavalet. Instead, the artworks were split between buyers across Europe, becoming some of the 100,000 artworks the Nazis looted in France between 1940 and 1945.
Around 60,000 of these works were returned to France by 1949, according to the New York Times’ Aurelien Breeden. Three-quarters of the returned works were quickly claimed by their rightful owners; the remainder was sold at auction or categorized by the government as Musées Nationaux Récupération, or National Museum Recovery (MNR).