Stolen World War II Art - Josh Shaffer

Between 1933 and 1945, NAZI Germany stole a lot of priceless art from occupied Europe. A lot of these pieces of art were hidden from Allied forces, or used in personal collections for high ranking NAZI officials. After the war in Europe ended, the ownership of a lot of these paintings were contested, as the Allied forces claimed ownership on a lot of these paintings. This gallery is a collection of some of the greatest pieces of art that were stolen from its rightful owners. More than 30,000 pieces of art are still missing. Some may have been destroyed, others hidden from public view. This gallery focuses on works of art that have been tragically lost to the second World War.

The portrait of "Dr Paul Gachet" is one of Vincent van Gogh's more popular works. This painting (note: the picture is the "Second Version" of this painting) was stolen by the NAZI party in 1937. The artwork changed hands and ended up in New York City. The original painting has changed hands numerous times, and it is unclear where the painting currently resides. van Gogh's familiar use of bright color draws the viewer into the painting. A man, Dr. Paul Gachet, sits at a table holding a flower, his head lazily laying in his hand while his elbow rests on the orange table. The subject is wearing a blue coat with a clean white hat. The man seems sad, or distant, for unknown reasons. Perhaps he is bored. The color blue dominates the painting, van Gogh using the color in the subjects coat, background, and eyes.
Jewish Woman with Oranges was stolen by NAZI Germany in 194 and recovered in 2011. This painting, by Aleksander Gierymski, is now on display at the National Museum in Warsaw. The painting showcases an older, financially unstable, woman selling oranges out of a basket. Her clothes look worn, and her face tired. The city of Warsaw serves as a backdrop to the woman, as she sells fruit from her basket. Gierymski was masterful at painting realistic looking texture; the woman basket is full of smooth looking oranges, and her clothes look as if they would be sticky, or grimy, to touch. When first looking at the painting, the viewer is drawn to the defeated eyes of the poor woman, and are moved to her baskets, which give the impression that selling fruit is her primary source of income.
The "Madonna of Bruges" by Michelangelo, is perhaps one of the most famous statues recovered by United States Forces during World War II. This statue depicts Mary, mother of Jesus, holding a baby Jesus in in her arms. It does seem as if Jesus is slipping, or supporting himself, on his mothers lap. The craftsmanship is extremely detailed, creating an incredibly lifelike image. Crafted out of marble, Michelangelo was able to fully realize Jesus and his mother. Mary looks a little forlorn, while Jesus almost looks impatient.
Recovered in 1945 by Allied forces, Edouard Manet's painting "In the Conservatory" was rescued from an almost disastrous future. This painting uses fantastic use of texture and shape. The green foliage in the background serves as a great backdrop to the woman and man in the conservatory. The lifelike plants add to the calming effect the painting has. The texture, from the smooth vase to the woman flowing dress, to the bench the man is leaning on, seems lifelike and dreamlike at the same time. The painting features a woman, in a blue dress with a collapsed umbrella in her lap, relaxing on a park bench. A man, with a large beard and black jacket, leans down to speak to her. The woman looks completely disinterested while the man gazes innocently at her.
Recovered shortly after World War II, Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally" now hangs proudly in the Leopold Museum. This painting has been the center of the NAZI recovery, as seen in the documentary "Portrait of Wally", which showcases the intense legal battle over the proper ownership of Schiele's work. Using a Tetradic color scheme, by utilizing green and red in the painting, Schiele was able to capture the visage of his young mistress. Wally's brownish red hair is visible under her white hat, her eyes looking innocently at the viewer with bright blue eyes. It is a relatively simple painting, but there is something passionate about it at the same time. Perhaps the long and intense personal history of the painting helps bolster its allure.
Recovered in Russia in 1997 Italian master painter Pompeo Batoni's "Apollo and Two Muses" was restored and displayed in The Willow Palace Museum. This was originally displayed as a pair with its brother painting "Allegory of architecture, painting, and sculpture", but was lost during World War II. "Apollo and Two Muses" is a fantastic display of classic Neoclassical art. By fully utilizing contrast and shadow, Batoni was able to display a realistic image of Apollo meeting with two muses. Apollo is draped with a blue cloth, holding a harp under his arm. He has approached the two muses, one representing music and the other astronomy. The two muses seem extremely interested in Apollo, and are giving him adoring attention.
Recovered from the NAZI plunder, the "Marriage Portrait of Charlotte de Rothschild" by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, currently is on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This painting uses contrast, texture and shape to perfectly capture de Rothschild's image. The background of the painting is a serene sky, with blue ocean underneath. One can see a smoking volcano in the background, resting peacefully in the background. An apple tree sits directly behind the subject, its foliage bright green and healthy looking. de Rothschild is sitting patiently in front of the tree, a single finger quizzically touching her chin. She is wearing an expensive blue dress, pearls dangling in front of her chest. Her flowing dress, and the red cloth that drapes her seat, make her look regal and important. She is looking to the side of the painting, staring at nothing or lost deep in thought.
The painting was, successfully, hidden from the NAZI's during the course of World War II; which was a serious crime during the NAZI occupation. The owners of the painting took the painting off of its frame, put it in a tube and hid it for years. After the wars end, the painting was redisplayed successfully surviving the war. This painting depicts a military garrison standing for a portrait. Rembrandt was able to use contrast, dynamic shape, and space to create an interesting and monumental painting. The painting shows a group of soldiers, with muskets and swords, gathered around a great hall. The immediate focus is on a young woman illuminated by light, wearing white. What is unique about this is that the figure is in the background and is not the primary focus of the painting. The soldiers gather around their leader, standing in the center of the painting holding a staff and wearing a red sash. Another soldier stands close to him, wearing a white suit and holding a sword. The captain has a hand outstretched, as if he were welcoming people into his garrison. Many other soldiers litter the background of the painting, obscured by the shadows in the room. The room looks alive and busy, as the soldiers perform various tasks or are talking freely with one another. The painting does a great job with contrast and dimension, making the portrait seem lifelike and realistic.
Recovered from a stolen NAZI art collection, "Dead City III (City on the Blue River III) was painted by Egon Schiele. The painting depicts a disjointed village, houses close together outlined by a dark, uneven, black, with a hint of blue, border. The roofs of the buildings are brown and black, the walks yellowish white. The city, true to the name of the painting, looks dead. Schiele used complimentary colors, primarily red and blue with a yellowish brown, to show the city. His use of lines force the buildings close together, creating an uneasy feeling. The eye darts around the town, looking for some signs of life; but none can be found.
"The Art of Painting" by Jan Vermeer was personally purchased by Adolf Hitler in 1940 and recovered by allied forces in 1945. While the painting was obtained somewhat legally, it was hidden from Allied forces with other stolen works of art. This painting is considered Vermeer's masterwork, and one of the greatest paintings ever, and was with him until his death. The painting depicts an artist painting a woman holding a horn and wearing a blue dress. Vermeer used almost all of the Formal Elements of art: Texture, color, contrast, space, and value. The light coming from the left hand of the painting would indicate that there could be a large window there, creating shadows in the foreground. The artist is well lit, but still seems to be a little in the shadows, the primary focus being on the woman. The artist sits on a stool, brush in hand, and is in the very early stages of painting the leaves that adorn the woman's head. There is an extremely large cloth map on the back wall, which looks crinkled with use. The foreground also includes a large drape, folded messily on furniture. The black and white checkered floor below perfectly illustrating the differences in light and dark lighting.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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