Photographs taken at the Jeu de Paume during the Occupation
From the beginning of the month ofoctober 1940, the Louvre must put three rooms at the disposal of the Occupant to allow the circulation of works of art whose spoliation has already begun. Very quickly, this space becomes too small and Colonel Kurt von Behr, head of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) in Paris, sets his sights on the Musée du Jeu de Paume, which housed contemporary works from foreign schools of national collections before they were evacuated.
The place, already converted into a museum, has all the advantages for Colonel von Behr: the situation in the heart of Paris, the isolation within the Tuileries garden and therefore the discretion, the ease of access for vehicles and distance from the administration of national museums. Jacques Jaujard, director of the national museums, has no choice but to grant the authorization but negotiates the presence of a member of the conservation in the premises, Rose Valland. Thus, the Jeu de Paume becomes the transit place for works of art before their departure to Germany.
Many Nazi dignitaries come, several times, to see the works to select what they want to remember, for a museum or for themselves, starting with the Reichsmarschall Goering which goes there about twenty times between November 1940 and November 1942. This is why there are periodic hangings that restore the place to its museum appearance, without it being always possible to specify the date of the presentations.
Many shots are made by German staff working for the ERR (perhaps by Rudolph Scholz or Heinz Simokat, both photographers at the Jeu de Paume) and most are often reproduced. Some of them are available online on the German Federal Archives.
The general views presented here correspond to fourteen negatives held in the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FR-MAE Centre des archives diplomatique de La Courneuve, 20160007AC/7).
The images have been optimized thanks to a specific digitization of the details. They were then related to the plan of the two levels of the Jeu de Paume. 232 works are visible on these 14 photographs.
Access to the general plan and views of the rooms of the Jeu de Paume
Direct access to works records
Each record takes the photograph of the work as it appears on the overview, sometimes a detail of the canvas or the art object, and the image of the work «rectified» by an anamorphosis; it is not always of high quality because it is a greatly enlarged detail, but the reading of the work is significantly improved.
The record mentions descriptive information, author, title, dimensions.
The "Comment" field indicates whether the work was:
- returned with complete certainty, according to the information of the ERR Project website and the annotated RBS;
- probably returned, for the works recovered at Aulnay-sous-Bois in train no. 40-044 of 27 August 1944, known as Train d'Aulnay, if their restitution is not mentioned either by the ERR Project website or by the annotated RBS;
- repatriated to France, according to the ERR Project website.
When in doubt, the comment is “uncertain”.
The «Comment» field also includes other information, website of the museum where the work is kept, mention of the catalogue raisonné if it exists, link with the ERR sheet on the site ERR Project.
Special case of room 15, known as the Martyrs' Hall
There is a list of works of the twentieth century present at the Jeu de Paume in early 1942, sent by Rose Valland to Jacques Jaujard on March 10, 1942. This list is a translation into French, probably clandestine, of an inventory drawn up by the staff of the ERR, and which has the merit of including a description of the works and of providing the names of the persons robbed. The reconciliation of this list with the works visible on the two photographs in room 15 has made it possible to identify many works until then unknown or poorly attributed. This is indicated on the notices.