Rose Antonia Maria Valland (November 1, 1898September 18, 1980) was a French art historian, a member of the French Resistance, a captain in the French military, and one of the most decorated women in French history. She secretly recorded details of the Nazi plundering of National French and private Jewish owned art from France.

Rose Antonia Maria Valland (November 1, 1898September 18, 1980) was a French art historian, a member of the French Resistance, a captain in the French military, and one of the most decorated women in French history. She secretly recorded details of the Nazi plundering of National French and private Jewish owned art from France.

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[edit] WWII

Born in Saint-Étienne-de-Saint-Geoirs, Isère, she was the overseer of the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris at the time of the German occupation of France during World War II. Through the “Special Staff for Pictorial Art” (Sonderstab Bildende Kunst) of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg für die Besetzen Gebiete (The Reich Leader Rosenberg Institute for the Occupied Territories), or ERR, the Germans began the systematic looting of artworks from museums and private art collections throughout France. They used the Jeu de Paume Museum as their central storage and sorting depot pending distribution to various persons and places in Germany.

While the Nazi plundering was being carried out, Rose Valland began secretly recording as much as possible of the more than 20,000 pieces of art brought to the Jeu de Paume Museum. Unknown by the Germans, Valland understood German. For four years she kept track of where and to whom in Germany the artworks were shipped and risked her life to provide information to the French Underground[1] and about railroad shipments of art so that they would not mistakenly blow up the trains loaded with France’s priceless treasures. The museum was visited by high ranking Nazi officials and Valland was there when Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring came on May 3, 1941 to personally select some of the priceless stolen paintings for his own private collection.

[edit] Post WWII

Following the liberation of Paris by the Allied Forces, Rose Valland worked as a member of the “Commission for the Recovery of Works of Art” (Commission de Récupération Artistique). Valland was appointed a conservator of the French Musées Nationaux and in 1954 was named Chair of the “Commission for the Protection of Works of Art” (Chef du Service de protection des oeuvres d’art). In 1961, she wrote about her wartime experiences in a book published under the title, Le front de l’art (republished in 1997).

Rose Valland retired in 1968, but continued to work on restitution matters for the French archives. Her valor and dedication resulted in numerous awards from her own and other countries. From the French government she received the Légion d’honneur, was made a Commandeur of the Order of Arts and Letters and awarded the Médaille de la Résistance. Following its creation in 1951, she would receive the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

[edit] In popular culture

The 1964 John Frankenheimer film The Train was loosely based on her book, and includes a character named “Mlle Villard”. Valland’s role in preserving the stolen art was discussed as part of the book and documentary, The Rape of Europa.

In Sara Houghteling’s novel, Pictures at an Exhibition (2009), the character of Rose Clément is based on Rose Valland.

[edit] References

  1. ^ On the Trail of Lost Art: A Conversation with Lynn H. Nicholas“. Humanities, September/October 2000, Volume 22/Number 3. http://www.neh.gov/news/humanities/2001-05/conversation.html. Retrieved 2008-12-31.

[edit] External links

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