Saturday, May 15, 2010

Monuments Men Author Edsel: Southern Methodist University's Best Paintings Stolen by Nazis From Jewish families

Stolen Murillo at Southern Methodist University

From the Dallas Morning News:  Robert Edsel "stumbles" across paintings stolen by the Nazis from Jewish families (link at bottom of this post).

Given that the American Association of Art Museums and the College Art Association have consistently stonewalled provenance research efforts for decades and gotten together to block scholarly research efforts, this is really not surprising.

18 U.S.C. Section 662 Receiving stolen property says:

Whoever, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, buys, receives, or conceals any money, goods, bank notes, or other thing which may be the subject of larceny, which has been feloniously taken, stolen, or embezzled, from any other person, knowing the same to have been so taken, stolen, or embezzled, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; but if the amount or value of thing so taken, stolen or embezzled does not exceed $1,000, he shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

But in the US, there is an unwritten exception:  if you are a museum director and pretend that you never heard of the Holocaust, you can loudly proclaim that you are innocent.

What, every art professor and art history student who graduated from SMU was too stupid to figure any of this out?  Why aren't students at US universities publishing papers on this topic?  Did SMU really try to figure any of this out without Edsel's prodding?

In 1945 Supreme Court Justice Roberts headed a commission that warned US museums against acquiring property stolen during the Holocaust.  A warning was sent out to all museums.  In 1950, the US State Dept published warnings, these were circulated to the College Art Association, together with art dealers, museums and auction houses.

Since the victims were murdered and Europe sealed its records for decades, US museums have committed the perfect crime.  Now they lie to the public claiming that they have a "fiduciary duty" to hold onto the stolen loot.  And that the dead people have to prove it was stolen.

And very few people seem to care.  Bravo Edsel!   Let's watch the local prosecutors ignore this one.

SMU has a graduate program in art history, here is the PR plug for it:

Graduate Studies

Degree Programs
« Return to Art History

Areas of Study > Art History > Graduate Studies

The MA program in Art History equips students with core competencies in the study and theory of architecture, painting, sculpture, print culture, design, new media, and the tensions between images and objects. Built on the fertile exchange between the arts, sciences, and humanities, Art History subscribes to a cross-disciplinary approach to learning. The MA Program in Art History trains leaders in the field who are capable of thinking critically, seeing objects afresh, conducting research at the highest level, conversant with the discipline’s history and invested in shaping its future. Recent graduates have gone onto Ph.D. programs, most fully funded, at Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Brown, Cornell, UCLA, and USC.

The MA program requires 30 hours of coursework and culminates in the completion of a Master’s thesis. Each year six applicants are awarded MA stipends (on top of tuition waivers) up to $10,500. Funding for thesis travel and research is available on a competitive basis. Additionally, the Department offers one fully-funded site-specific graduate seminar a year (this Fall, in Venice) and academic credit and financial support are provided for those who participate in the Poggio Colla Field School in Tuscany, Italy.

M.A. Art History
More information

For more information about graduate studies at the Meadows School of the Arts, please contact: Joe Hoselton, Graduate Recruitment (

From SMU's Provenance website
Although Murillo had been trained in the sober, tenebristic manner characteristic of seventeenth- century Sevillian painting, the artist developed a new voice as he reached artistic maturity. Nurtured by a trip to Madrid in 1658, which brought him into direct contact with imported High Baroque traditions, he began to produce the freely painted, richly colored images for which he is known. These two devotional images, although smaller than the artist’s most famous compositions of the 1660s, exemplify the poetry and fluidity with which the artist could approach nearly any subject, whether religious or secular.

According to tradition, Justa and Rufina, the patron saints of Seville, were third-century pottery sellers who secretly practiced Christianity, a religion proscribed by the Roman emperor. Their refusal to sell their wares to pagans revealed the sisters as Christians, and when they persisted in their faith, they were executed. In reference to this, each sister holds ceramic vessels and a palm frond, a symbol of martyrdom.

El estilo de Murillo evolucionó desde un profundo realismo tenebrista de sus años de formación a otro más lumínico, caracterizado por una técnica vibrante, llena de colores empastados, aplicados con amplias y frescas pinceladas. Este último estilo se empieza a observar en la producción de Murillo realizada después de su viaje a Madrid de 1658, durante el cual pudo estudiar las obras del Alto Barroco flamenco y madrileño, que se conservaban en importantes colecciones de la corte. Estas dos pequeñas pero exquisitas pinturas son ejemplos de la maestría que el artista llegó a alcanzar. Murillo concibió obras de profunda y tierna religiosidad, a través de un estudio amable de la realidad sensible y un cromatismo refinado, cuyo carácter anticipa el arte del siglo XVIII, el del Rococó.
Según la tradición, Justa y Rufina, las santas patronas de Sevilla, vivieron en la ciudad durante el siglo III como hijas de un humilde ceramista. Cristianas clandestinas fueron denunciadas al prefecto Diogeniano, que las condenó a muerte al no abandonar su religión prohibida y no querer convertirse al paganismo imperante en la época. Cada hermana sujeta en la mano recipientes de cerámica y una palma, símbolos de su trabajo y martirio respectivamente.

Possibly Marqués de Villamanrique, Seville (?); Rothschild Family Collection, Paris (before 1941); Confiscated by the Nazi ERR in Paris from Rothschild Collection, inventory nos. R 1170, R 1171 (1941); (Justa) ERR Buxheim (1945); (Rufina) Munich Central Collecting Point under Allied Control (1945-46); Likely restituted to Rothschild family (after 1946)*; [Art Market, Paris] (1967); H. Shickman Gallery, New York (by 1972); Meadows Museum, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 20 September 1972.

*We are indebted to Mr. Robert M. Edsel and Ms. Patricia A. Teter for providing the Rothschild and Nazi-era information.

Previously Published Provenance

Marqués de Villamanrique, Seville (?); Conde de Altamira, Seville and London; George Granville, Marquis of Stafford, Stafford House, London; Dukes of Sutherland, Stafford House, London, catalogue nos. 120 and 121; Cromarties, 4th Duke of Sutherland (to February 1913 – the 4th Duke died 27 June 1913); Julius Böhler Gallery, Munich (from 1913 – pair split up); (Justa) Ownership Unknown; (Rufina) Bernat [Bernart or Bernard?} Back, Szeged, Hungary (by 1917); returned to Böhler (by 1928) for sale (1929); Private Collection, France (as a pair?, to 1967); [Art Market, Paris] (1967); [H. Shickman Gallery, New York, by 1972]; Acquired by the Museum, 20 September 1972, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated.

Paintings hanging in SMU's Meadows Museum are among those Nazis stole from Jewish families News for Dallas, Texas Dallas Morning News Latest News

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