If there is one woman that deserves a monument, parade and her face on a euro it is Rose Valland. She isn’t a name that is widely known and if I can do just one little thing in this life it is for others to know her story. Rose Valland was born in 1898 in the Auvergne region, an only child that showed promise from a very early age. Her mother would apply for special grants that allowed her daughter to enroll in university, something that was hard for women to do at that time. Rose would excel in school from the Fine Arts school in Lyon to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris where she would also teach, the University of Paris for Medieval archeology and then the Ecole du Louvre.
In 1932 she would take on a job that would alter the lives of thousands of people. As a volunteer to the curator of the Jeu de Paume she would write and curate exhibitions. In 1940 Jacques Jaujard, the director of the Musée Nationaux asked Rose to stay at the Jeu de Paume. It was 1940, the Nazis had arrived and occupied France. Gorhing was looting the homes, galleries and museums of Paris and needed a place to store the stolen goods. The Jeu de Paume, the freestanding building in the Jardin des Tuileries, became their personal depot. Transformed into their personal gallery, the paintings stolen from the Jewish gallery owners and homes lined the walls before being shipped off to Germany.
Rose Valland was quiet & meek, who wore her hair in a bun and glasses and disappeared into the woodwork. She was a brilliant woman, with a photographic memory and also spoke German. All these things combined made her one of the greatest assets France and the lovers of art ever had. Each and every night, Rose would return to her small apartment near the Jardin des Plantes and would write down every single detail of the day.
Because of Rose Valland more than 60,000 works of art were returned to Jewish families, museums and galleries after the war. Sadly just as many if not more are still missing and many sit in museums across France waiting to be returned to their rightful owners.
Listen to even more about this amazing woman on this week's episode of the podcast and check my website for more on Rose.
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