Schloss Collection: Non-restituted looted works 1943-1998
The Schloss collection was the last great Flemish and Dutch art collection to be assembled in the nineteenth century in France, comprising 333 masterpieces. It belonged to Adolphe Schloss, a collector with an international reputation between the wars. It included works by Petrus Christus, Isenbrandt and Gossaert, by Netherlands masters Bruegel de Velours, Brouwer, Van Der Heyden, Van Der Neer, Rembrandt and Ruisdael and works by Boursse, Brekelencamp, and Molenaer. On the death of Lucie Schloss the widow of Adolphe, the collection was inherited by their offspring who, in 1939, stored it at the Château de Chambon in Laguene, near Tulle, on the property of the Banque Jordan.
On 13 April 1943 German SS officers and French auxiliaries of the Gestapo of Rue Lauriston seized the collection. After transit in Tulle and Limoges, the paintings were taken to Paris and stored in the Dreyfus Bank where a complete inventory of the Schloss works was drawn up in the presence of a delegation of police officers from the Direction des Services de Police de Sureté, bailiffs and officials from the Sections d'enquête et de contrôle of the Commission for Jewish Affairs, the official receiver, Jean-François Lefranc, Postma who was an expert in Flemish paintings, and curators of the Louvre, René Huyghe and Germain Bazin.
262 works from the collection were then transferred to the Jeu de Paume, having been earmarked for Hitler's Linz museum. Forty-nine works were spared from looting by Louvre officials. The shipping firm Pusey, Beaumont and Crassier, transported 230 works from the collection to Germany on 27 November 1943. Bruno Lohse, an SS officer and chief operative of the ERR (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg) had kept some works for himself, and Lefranc, one of the informers who helped locate the wartime whereabouts of the collection, sold twenty-two paintings at a very low price to a Dutch art dealer by the name of Buittenweg, including a work by Metsu and two by J. De Wit. It is thought that Buittenweg was a pseudonym for a German or Dutch national whose identity has not yet been established.
After the war forty-nine paintings which the Louvre had prevented from being removed to Germany were returned to the Schloss family, five more were recovered in Germany, and a further two in the salt mines of Alt Aussee.
Of the 333 paintings in the Schloss collection a total of 162 were restituted after the war, leaving 171 still to be restituted today. Several have appeared on the art market and changed hands. Seven paintings, however, having resurfaced at auction sales or having been identified in foreign museum collections, are the subject of legal claims.
A list of the collection still awaiting restitution was published after the war 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 , 1947. A catalogue was produced using the photos taken at the Louvre before the removal of the paintings from France, and circulated in the art market in Europe and the US, to facilitate restitution by making identification easier.
A more recent catalogue was published in 1998 by the Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Direction des Archives et de la Documentation: Collection Schloss: Oevres spoliées pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale non restituées (1943-1998) (Marie Hamon-Jugnet).
The catalogue is also online at https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/sites/archives_diplo/schloss/index_ang.html
Ministère des Affaires Etrangères
Direction des Archives et de la Documentation
37 Quai ‘Orsay
Fax: +33 (0)1 43 17 48 44 or +33 (0)1 43 17 42 97
https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/sites/archives_diplo/schloss/index_ang.html, accessed 2 January 2003, updated 13 September 2010 and 16 October 2019