“Portrait of Emma Hart,” by the English artist George Romney, was among the prized works donated to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston by a member of the famed Rothschild family.

186 Artworks Looted From Rothschilds Given to Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Millions of dollars worth of prized art and objects once stolen by the Nazis and later forcibly relinquished to the Austrian government was donated to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The donation of 186 objects from the original collection of Alphonse and Clarice de Rothschild of Vienna of the famed Jewish banking dynasty was made by Bettina Burr, a granddaughter of the baron and baroness. Many of the works were seized in 1938 following the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany, according to the museum.

As heiress to the collection, Burr’s mother, Bettina Looram, spent decades pursuing the art from the Austrian Ministry of Culture, which in 1999 reversed its earlier decisions, returning the 250 pieces of art to the family. Many of the works were sold at auction, but some objects of personal significance were kept back, many of which have now been given to the museum.

The gift includes European decorative arts, furniture, prints, drawings, paintings, personal objects and jewelry, including an emerald and diamond Art Deco brooch that Alphonse Rothschild gave to his wife as a 25th wedding anniversary gift. Among the paintings is “Portrait of Emma Hart,” later Lady Hamilton, by the English artist George Romney.

“Through my mother’s tenacity and courage, 60 years after the 1938 Anschluss, these works were returned to my family,” Burr, a museum trustee, said in a statement. “Now, as my mother would have wished, I am delighted that this collection will stay at the MFA for as long as I can envision.”

Malcolm Roger, the museum’s director, called the gift a transformation of the museum’s collection.

“This gift allows us to tell, in a very moving way, one of the saddest stories of the Second World War, and the story of Bettina’s mother and her long pilgrimage to set history right,” he said.

An exhibit of some of the collection goes on view from March 1 to June 21, and will include material that addresses how curators traced the provenance of the art.

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

186 Artworks Looted From Rothschilds Given to Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close