Monuments Men at the Gallery: Recovering the Lost History of Edgar Degas’ Mlle. Fiocre dans le ballet de “La Source”
The forthcoming release of the film Monuments Men, based on the book of the same title that traces the activities of members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section of the Allied Forces as they located, protected, and returned artworks confiscated by the Nazis during World War II, is especially timely given the recent revelation that in 2012, German officials discovered over 1400 artworks in the dingy Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, son of collaborationist art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt.
The Albright-Knox recently had a discovery of its own regarding the fate of one our paintings during the war—albeit one with a much happier ending, in which the artwork was long ago restored to its rightful owner. While working on a project to make more information about the Gallery’s art works accessible through MIMSY, our collection database, the art collection cataloger needed to gather some biographical information about Alphonse Kann, a former owner of Edgar Degas’ Mlle. Fiocre dans le ballet de “La Source” in order to improve the record for him in the database.
She learned that though Kann, a French Jewish art dealer, was listed in the Gallery’s documentation as owning the painting until his death in 1948, he had in fact fled Paris in 1938 or 1940, leaving behind his art collection, which was seized by the Germans in 1940.