Rouen, nine paintings stolen by Nazis search for their rightful owners

The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen has nine paintings by Monet, Corot, Géricault that were stolen by the Nazis. A search is still on for the owners.

Nine paintings from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, looted in Nazi Germany, are still searching for their rightful owners. These include works by Monet, Corot, Géricault, and Guillaumin.

“45,000 works have been returned to their owners,” said Diederik Bakhuÿs, curator of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen. Today, about 2,000 works are still orphaned, preserved and exhibited in many French museums. “It’s still very rare for a work to be returned,” he added, “Every year one is returned, but out of a total of 2,000 paintings, that’s not much.”

At the end of World War II, curator and French Resistance member Rose Valland played an important role in the recovery of masterpieces stolen by the Nazis; most of the looted works were seized in 1945 and many more in 1990, after the reunification of Germany. And nearly 60,000 of the 100,000 works stolen from Jewish families were recovered and returned to their owners.

Today the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen holds nine of them: four paintings by Claude Monet and five others by Théodore Géricault, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Armand Guillaumin, Stanislas Lépine and Othon Friesz.

These are being meticulously and carefully researched to arrive at theidentification of their owners or rightful descendants. “This is a necessary act of justice,” commented Bakhuÿs. Numerous German, American and French public archives have already been combed.

In order to facilitate the search, the Rose Valland database has been created, in which all the works are listed, thus enabling them to be identified and returned to their rightful owners who request them.

Regarding the nine paintings housed in the Rouen museum building, Bakhuÿs said, “We have taken care of all the looted paintings so that the story of each work, its return to France and the sometimes surprising circumstances that led to their discovery after the war would be told. The theft of works of art by the Nazis is not yet a subject known to everyone.”

Pictured, Claude Monet, Poppy Field, Giverny environs (1885; Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts)

Rouen, nine paintings stolen by Nazis search for their rightful owners
Rouen, nine paintings stolen by Nazis search for their rightful owners

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