Adolphe Schloss, an internationally renowned art collector
during the interwar period, had assembled a magnificent, collection
of 333 paintings which he bequeathed to his wife.
Mainly composed of Flemish and Dutch paintings, it was particularly
reputed for its fine choice of masters and the exquisite quality
of the paintings. Art experts still regard the Schloss collection
as the last great Dutch art collection to be assembled in
France in the 19th century.
It included works by early masters, such as Petrus Christus's
Pieta, a Vierge by Isenbrandt
and a Vénus by Gossaert.
Seventeenth-century Netherlandish masters were also well
represented with paintings by Bruegel de Velours, Brouwer,
Van Der Heyden, Van Der Neer, Rembrandt and Ruisdael.
And there were beautiful works by less well-known masters,
such as Boursse, Brekelencamp, Molenaer, and others, rarely
found in French collections.
Upon the death of Lucie Schloss, the collection was passed
on to the children as a joint inheritance. At the outbreak
of the war in 1939, the heirs put it away for safekeeping
in the Château de Chambon, a property owned by the Banque
Jordan at Laguene, about two kilometers from Tulle.
German units began searching for the collection immediately
after the invasion of France, having received instructions
to track it down using all the means at their disposal - police
forces, informers, and so on.
Their investigations first led them to the place where the
Schloss heirs were hiding. Two were immediately arrested;
the third was never found.
The Germans appointed a official receiver to liquidate the
collection, but the Director of Aryanization refused to ratify
the appointment, considering that an illegal act of assault
and plunder had been committed. The individual in question
was J.-F. Lefranc, one of the informers who had helped the
Germans locate the whereabouts of the collection.
On April 13, 1943, a group of hired hands working for the
French auxiliaries of the Gestapo, Rue Lauriston, presented
themselves as policemen at the Chambon château and seized
the collection. The group included several German SS officers
with French identity papers.
The convoy was intercepted by the French gendarmerie on orders
issued by the prefect of Corrèze. After a series of mishaps,
the collection was transported to a German barracks in Tulle,
whereupon Pierre Laval interceded, officially requesting the
German general in command of the southern zone
(1) to have the paintings returned to Chambon. The works
were handed over to the French authorities and transferred
to safes in the Banque de France in Limoges.(2)
Thereafter Abel Bonnard, Minister of National Education and
Culture, was put in charge of the affair. He delivered the
collection to the Germans. The paintings were transported
to Paris to the Dreyfus Bank'basement, which served as a storehouse
to the Commission for Jewish Affairs. This is where a complete
inventory of the Schloss collection was drawn up August 13-23,
Representatives of several administrations were present for
the inventory, including a delegation of police officers from
the Criminal Investigation Department in Paris ("Direction
des Services de Police de Sûreté") Jean-François Lefranc,
official receiver, Postma, expert in Flemish paintings, Louvre
curators René Huyghe and Germain Bazin, bailiffs and officials
from the investigation department (" Sections d'enquête et
de contrôle ") of the Commission for Jewish Affairs.
Of the 333 inventoried paintings, the Louvre managed to obtain
preemption of 49 works so as to safeguard them in view of
Of the 284 paintings selected by the Germans, 262 were destined
for the Hitler museum and were transferred to the Jeu de Paume.
Rose Valland was there when the collection arrived and she
mentioned it several times in memorandums to her director
"November 2, 1943.
The Schloss collection brought from the Dreyfus Bank,
262 paintings arrive at the Jeu de Paume. Works handed over
in the presence of Darquier de Pellepoix, Lohse (4),
Lefranc (in charge of the collection), and Dr. Erhard Göpel
who accepts delivery of the paintings on behalf of the Führer.
Lefranc keeps the meeting lively with jokes. Darquier
de Pellepoix exchanges pleasantries with Lohse. Lefranc leaves
the Dreyfus Bank with a painting under his arm."(6)
Two days later, Alfred Rosenberg visited the Jeu de Paume,
"accompanied by his suite in seven automobiles. A quick
glance at the exhibition and the Schloss collection. No one
allowed to leave the museum. Closed for more than an hour.
The rooms, sumptuously decorated with chrysanthemums, are
emptied out by the Germans as soon as the visit is over."
On November 19, "Departure of Borchers for Belgium, and
Lohse for Munich. The latter's trip has to do with the Schloss
collection. Lohse is to prepare for its arrival in Munich.
He had dealings with these paintings before, but Dr. Göpel
says that he made a mess of it.
No doubt, he was the one who organized the seizure by
truck, later intercepted upon Laval's orders. According to
Göpel, he tried to get some credit for the affair anyway.
He proposed to Dr. Göpel to set up a bureau at the Jeu de
Paume, but after Göpel did so, he and his collection were
neglected and none of the promised facilities were forthcoming.
'The atmosphere in the museum is not pure,' Göpel notes, but
none of Lohse's maneuvering is of any importance because he
[Göpel] has the Führer's support. The Schloss collection being
destined for Hitler himself, it will be sent to his new museum
at the Führerbau in Munich."
The Schloss collection left for Munich on November 27, 1943.
It seems, however, that a few paintings surfaced after this
date. Intrigued, Rose Valland notes on March 31, 1944,
"As for the Schloss collection, Lohse was expecting to
be complimented for the way he resolved the affair. But in
Germany, no one was handing out compliments. In what underhanded
way did Lohse manage to remove three paintings from the collection,
including a Rembrandt and a work by a student of Hals? The
three paintings were later offered to Field Marshal Göring
for purchase. Hofer (7),
who is hostile to Lohse, refused them saying that they were
of no interest to Göring. Dr. Lohse kept them for himself,
buying them at a very low price. How did these three paintings
get separated from the rest of the collection, when all the
other works that the Louvre did not take were apparently bought
by the Führer himself for his house in Munich? In this connection,
note that Lefranc left the meeting the day the collection
was delivered with a painting under his arm."
A careful examination of the shipping records of Pusey, Beaumont,
Crassier, the firm hired to transport (8)
the paintings, confirms that of the 262 paintings that were
at the Jeu de Paume on November 2, 1943 only 230 works were
packed in 15 crates. This means that 32 paintings were missing
from the shipment to Munich. It should also be noted that
only 123 of the 170 paintings that have not been restored
figure on the Pusey records.
Moreover, it is curious to note that three paintings that
were supposedly sold to one Buittenweg - a painting by Metsu
and two by J. De Wit - appear on the Pusey shipping records
with the other paintings destined for Münich.
Before the transfer to the Jeu de Paume, 22 paintings were
entrusted to Lefranc who sold them to a certain Buittenweg,
a would-be Dutch art dealer who has never been identified
despite extensive police investigations. Apparently, the name
was used to hide the true identity of a beneficiary, in all
likelihood of German or Dutch origin.
Initially, these 22 paintings of great value and importance
had been earmarked for the Göring collection. But by 1943
Göring was beginning to fall out of favor and he thought it
wiser not to displease Hitler by reserving a part of the collection
for himself. Moreover, he seems not to have wanted his name
connected with the scandal sparked by the seizure of the Schloss
Once Göring had withdrawn from the transaction, the deal
with Buittenweg was facilitated by a new complaisant appraisal
estimating the value of the works at a very low price (which
was never paid).
Rose Valland notes on April 18, 1944, having learned in the
course of a conversation that,
"Lohse was the one who tried to organize the seizure of
the Schloss collection (the clandestine seizure by truck).
One of his friends from the SS was in the truck. The attempt
was made against the instructions of Göring, who had telegraphed
him to leave the whole business alone, that he was not interested
During questioning after the war, Lohse admitted that he
had kept a number of works, and that he had first offered
them to Hofer for Göring before trying to negotiate a deal
with Maria Almas Dietrich.
After the war, 5 of the 22 paintings were recovered in Germany.
Two other paintings were found in Hitler's collection in Aussee.
The 49 paintings preempted by the Louvre were immediately
restituted in 1945.
A list of all the other works was published in 1947 by the
Commission for the Recovery of Art (" Bureau central des restitutions
") in the Répertoire des biens spoliés durant la guerre
1939-1945, vol. 2, Tableaux et tapisseries.
The aim of the catalogue was to facilitate locating and identifying
plundered goods. It was not designed as a catalogue for collectors.
The photographs published were sometimes of very poor quality,
but it was hoped that they would enable the identification
of the works better than verbal descriptions.
The Répertoire was not, however, merely a tool for experts
working on recovering looted art in France; it was also meant
to provide "potential buyers" with a list of "goods
which, having been acquired in an irregular way, can not be
the object of commercial transactions without seriously engaging
[the buyer's] responsibility."(9)
The catalogue was widely distributed to art dealers, professionals
and museums in Europe, the United States, and in all the Allied
and Axis countries.
Since the Louvre had photos taken of the paintings before
their removal from the Jeu de Paume, the Schloss family was
able to publish a list.
We know through investigations conducted after the war that
the paintings destined for Hitler were transported to Munich.
Some were deposited in the Führerbau but disappeared thereafter.
Others were found in different regions in Germany.
162 of the 333 works have been restituted. Some of these
were later sold in the fifties by the Schloss heirs.
In 1977, a painting by Van de Capelle, Mer calme, was recovered
in Germany and returned to the Schloss family whereupon the
indemnity that Germany had paid after 1961 was refunded.
171 paintings have not yet been restituted. A few have been
identified at sales or in foreign museums, and have given
rise to lawsuits or restitution claims through diplomatic
Seven paintings have been identified:
In 1990, the Schloss family was notified that Portrait
d'Adrianus Tegularius by Frans Hals had turned up
at the International Antiques Biennial in Paris. The work
is now being held pending court decision.
Nature morte by Dirck Van Delen, bequeathed
by Vitale Bloch to the Boymans Van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam.
Marie de Medicis by Rubens, bought by an art
dealer at a Christie's sale in New York.
Nature morte by Van Roestraten, identified
at a Belgian gallery stand at the Maastricht Fair in 1998.
Portrait de l'artiste, Peintre devant son chevalet,
attributed to Brouwer or Saftleven, found at an Amsterdam
gallery stand at the Maastricht Fair in 1998.
Le Juif au bonnet de fourrure by Rembrandt,
located at the Norodni Gallery in Prague, now the object of
a restitution claim through diplomatic channels from the Czech
Viellard by Rembrandt, currently the object
of a lawsuit in the United States.
Others, such the Portraits of Miéris and his
wife or Vue du forum romain by Ulft have been
sold at auctions abroad - some of them bearing the mention
'Collection Schloss. Stolen by the Nazis' - before the Schloss
heirs could do anything to stop the transaction.
Note to the reader
The purpose of this catalogue is twofold: to help the Schloss
heirs locate the whereabouts of their stolen property, but
also to ensure that potential buyers do not find themselves
unwittingly in the position of receivers of stolen goods and
consequently confronted with legal problems.
The catalogue lists only the works not restituted as of July
1, 1997. It is based on the different lists in the Art Recovery
archives at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Signed discharges
by the Schloss heirs served as the basis for knowing which
works were really returned.
Descriptive information comes from the 1943 list which was
drawn up by experts. It includes the name of the painter and
subject, technical specifications (material, dimensions, date
and signature), the exhibitions where the work was shown,
sales in which it figured, and the main publications mentioning
Most of the publications and exhibitions cited are from the
1943 list which itself draws on the Schloss catalogue. Only
a few reference books have been added, in the case of works
cited or identified after 1945.
The paintings sold to Buittenweg are noted as such.
The numbers assigned in the 1943 list, which served as a
reference for the dimensions and titles, are also cited in
The numbers given in the German inventory found after the
at the Munich Führerbau figure with the mention 'Liste
allemande n° '
The works listed on the shipping register of the Pusey firm,
which transported them to the Führerbau in Munich, bear the
mention 'Registre Pusey'.
References to the Répertoire de biens spoliés
durant la guerre 1939-1945 are also given so that those who
have this publication may validate the legitimacy of a restitution
You will find the following French abbreviations in the catalogue
B.: wood; C.: copper; T.: canvas
b. bottom; d.: right; g.: left; h.: top; m.: middle; mi-h.:
D.: Dated; S.: Signed.
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herdenking Van de plechtige.
SEDELMEYER, Catalogue de 100 peintures, 1901
SMITH (John), A catalogue raisonné of the works
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SUMOWSKI (W.), Gemälde Der Rembrandt-Schüler, 5
vols, Landau, 1983-
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