Pauline Baer de Perignon
It all started with a list of paintings.
There, scribbled by a cousin she hadn’t seen for years, were the names of the masters whose works once belonged to her great-grandfather, Jules Strauss: Renoir, Monet, Degas, Tiepolo and more.
Pauline Baer de Perignon knew little to nothing about Strauss, or about his vanished, precious art collection. But the list drove her on a frenzied trail of research in the archives of the Louvre and the Dresden museums, through Gestapo records, and to consult with Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano.
What happened in 1942? And what became of the collection after Nazis seized her great-grandparents’ elegant Parisian apartment?
The quest takes Pauline Baer de Perignon from the Occupation of France to the present day as she breaks the silence around the wrenching experiences her family never fully transmitted, and asks what art itself is capable of conveying over time.
The fascinating story of one woman’s search for her great-grandfather’s lost art and true-life story.
When a cousin mentioned that the Nazis might have pillaged their great-grandfather’s art collection during their occupation of Paris in World War II, author Pauline Baer de Perignon was caught entirely off-guard. At no time in her life had she ever heard a whisper of such!
Intrigued, she began to research her great-grandfather’s collection and, in the process, discovered the truth about her great-grandparents’ lives during the occupation. She’d always understood they’d come through that dark time in history pretty much unscathed, and that just wasn’t the case at all.
The Vanished Collection is a wonderful tribute to the author’s great-grandfather, renowned collector of Impressionist art, Jules Strauss. It is also a tribute to perseverance and dedication to researching the truth.
I found the author’s recounting of her experiences easy-to-read and absolutely fascinating. I was so caught up in her story that time flew by. I was immersed in her search.
The difficulties she ran into getting the museums responsible for preserving and reuniting the stolen art with their rightful owners or their heirs was eye-opening. So little concerted effort appears to have been put into the process of returning these sentimental, not to mention priceless, items to where they belong.
Also, the story is a heartbreaking, sobering reminder of the Jews who lost everything: their property, possessions, families, and lives. I hope this book spurs other descendants to question what family treasures may be locked away in some museum, safe yet forgotten. I know that I want to read more about this topic now.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the publisher and France Booktours.
The Vanished Collection
Translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer
La Collection disparue
was first published in French on 9/9/2020
To be published in English on
Paperback and ebook
New Vessel Press
On New Vessel Press
On Bookshop / On Amazon
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pauline Baer de Perignon
has co-authored film scripts
and directed writing workshops in Paris
where she lives.
The Vanished Collection is her first book.