Historical introduction

The looting
Restored Paintings
Non-restituted works
Note to the reader

The looting

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, 1943.(3)

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 ulterior restitution.

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 Jaujard:

"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 (5) 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 paintings.

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 in it."

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.

Restored Paintings

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.

Non-restituted works

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 channels.

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 authorities.

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 it.

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 descriptions.

The numbers given in the German inventory found after the war (10) 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 claim.

You will find the following French abbreviations in the catalogue descriptions:

B.: wood; C.: copper; T.: canvas

b. bottom; d.: right; g.: left; h.: top; m.: middle; mi-h.: midway up

D.: Dated; S.: Signed.


BERNDT (Walther), Die Niederländischen Maler des 17. Jahrhunderts, 3 vols, Brückner Verlag, Munich, 1948-1969.

BODE, Studien zur Geschichte des hollandischen Malerei, Braunschwig, 1883, p. 85.

BREDIUS (A.), édit., Künstler-Inventare. Urkunden zur Geschichte Der holländischen Kunst des XVIten, XVIIten und XVIIIten Jahrhunderts (avec la collaboration d'O. HIRSCHMANN), 8 vols, La Haye, 1915-1922.

Commandement en chef français en Allemagne, Groupe français du Conseil de Contrôle, Direction générale de l'économie et des finances, Division des réparations et restitutions, Bureau central des restitutions, Répertoire des biens spoliés durant la guerre 1939 - 1945, vol. 2, Tableaux et tapisseries, 1947, photographies.

FRIEDLÄNDER (M. J.), Die Altniederländische Malerei, 14 vols, 1924-1937.

HOFSTEDE DE GROOT (C.), Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis Der Werke Der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts, 10 vols, Stuttgart-Paris, 1907-1928.

- Institut Néerlandais, Le Choix d'un amateur éclairé, oeuvres de la collection Vitale Bloch, provenant du musée Boymans-Van Beuningen., Paris, 1979, in 8°, 116 p. ill

NAGLER (G. K.), Neues allgemeines künstler-Lexicon, 22 vols, Munich, 1835-1852.

SCHMIDT-DEGENER, Rembrandt. Tentoonstelling ter herdenking Van de plechtige.

SEDELMEYER, Catalogue de 100 peintures, 1901

SMITH (John), A catalogue raisonné of the works of eminent Dutch, Flemisch, and French painters, 9 vols, 1829-1842.

SUMOWSKI (W.), Gemälde Der Rembrandt-Schüler, 5 vols, Landau, 1983-

WAAGEN, Manuel de la peinture, T. III, p. 18.

WURZBACH (A. von), Niederländisches Künstlerlexikon, 3 vols, Vienne-Leipzig, 1906-1911.