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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Veronese: Lost and Found?

Continued from "The Lost Museum."

The famous scholar told us the story of how he came to own a Veronese. It was a well-practiced tale. I am only reporting (after 30 years!) what we were told. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the tale, of course.

Famous scholar told us that a colleague showed him a classified ad for a yard sale in a Chicago suburb. Among the usual: furniture, household, and so on was something unusual: painting by Veronese. Famous scholar went to the sale, learned that the painting was $3000 and purchased it, with the proviso that he would have to look into authenticity. The sellers agreed.

Famous scholar was well-connected and took the painting to his friend who was a curator at a famous art museum. They found the painting in a publication, with a note that it had been lost. With this evidence of authenticity, the sale was completed. The sellers were dentists.

Fast forward about 20 years (2004?). Mr FS and I invited a few stray people to Thanksgiving dinner. One guest was my former department head. Another was a woman we know who grew up in England. During World War II, she was among the children shipped from London to the countryside.

Somehow the conversation turned to ... well, I can't remember...but I told the story of the Veronese. Both guests said--immediately and in unison--WAR LOOT.

Of course! How could I not have seen it?  Surely this would have or should have occurred to the person who worked in the museum if not to the famous scholar.

Interestingly, I checked out the whereabouts of famous scholar. He's still famous. And he's teaching in Berlin. How strange. I wonder if he still has the painting. I wonder if he went to the exhibit at the Bode Museum. I wonder how much of the story is true.

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