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Translated by Shaun Whiteside
On September 20, 1940, one of the most famous European art dealers disembarked in New York, one of hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Vichy France. Leaving behind his beloved Paris gallery, Paul Rosenberg had managed to save his family, but his paintings—modern masterpieces by Cézanne, Monet, Sisley and others—were not so fortunate. As he fled, dozens of works were seized by Nazi forces and the art dealer’s own legacy eradicated.
More than a half century later, Anne Sinclair uncovered a box filled with letters. “Curious in spite of myself,” she writes, “I plunged into these archives, in search of the story of my family. To find out who my mother’s father really was… a man hailed as a pioneer in the world of modern art, who then became a pariah in his own country during the Second World War. I was overcome with a desire to fit together the pieces of this French story of art and war.”
Drawing on her grandfather’s intimate correspondences with Picasso, Matisse, Braque and others, Sinclair takes us on a personal journey through the life of a legendary member of the Parisian art scene. Rosenberg’s story is emblematic of millions of Jews, rich and poor, whose lives were indelibly altered in WWII. Sinclair’s journey to reclaim her family history paints a picture of modern art on both sides of the Atlantic between the 1920s and 1950s, and reframes twentieth century art history.
‘A deeply moving story.’
‘Rosenberg’s story is a compelling one, especially for the light it sheds on the Nazis’ war against modern art.‘
‘This is the extraordinary story of a visionary man.’
‘Anne Sinclair gives us a thrilling account of the advent of early 20th century artists, and of the criminal confiscation of art works by the German occupying forces.’
‘This book is both introspective and excellently documented, with an air of nostalgia, written like a little piece of sad music…The little piece of sad music finishes with the thunderclap of a media storm that rocks the lives of many.’
‘This is a sublime book about art and its values.’