Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister of Culture, announces, following the proposal of the Commission pour l'indemnisation des victimes de spoliations (CIVS) of 17 May, the decision to hand over to the rights holders of Armand Dorville the twelve works (eleven drawings and a wax) that the State had acquired at the sale of Mr. Dorville’s collection in Nice in June 1942. These works are now in the Louvre Museum, the Musée d'Orsay and the Château de Compiègne.

The rights holders of Armand Dorville will also be compensated for the damage resulting from the immobilization of the proceeds of the sale for at least two years, from mid-1942 to the end of the war.

This decision is based on the opinion of the CIVS, which argues that the particular circumstances of the sale, in particular the temporary freezing of the sums due to Armand Dorville’s heirs and the tragic fate of several of them, justify in equity a measure of reparation, even if the sale is not described as a dispossession by the Commission.

Since the relevant works belong to the national public collections, a law is necessary before this decision can be effectively implemented. The Government will soon introduce a bill to this effect.

The Minister of Culture extends her sympathies to the rights holders of Armand Dorville and recalls the memory of the five family members – a sister and two nieces of Armand Dorville, as well as two daughters of his nieces – murdered by the Nazis.

The Minister praises the considerable research work carried out in the context of this very particular file, both by her services (French Museum Service, mission of research and restitution of cultural property plundered between 1933 and 1945) the archives and museums concerned, as well as the magistrates-rapporteurs of the CIVS.

These investigations and the significant efforts made to resolve this issue reflect the strong commitment of the Ministry of Culture to shed light on the provenance of works in public collections.

List of works:

  1. Henry Bonaventure Monnier, Portraits of Joseph Prudhomme and Henry Monnier, watercolour, Louvre Museum, RF 29339;
  2. Henry Bonaventure Monnier, The three matrons, watercolour, Louvre Museum, RF 29340;
  3. Henry Bonaventure Monnier, The visitors, watercolour, Louvre Museum, RF 29341;
  4. Henry Bonaventure Monnier, An evening at Madame X’s, gouachée plume, musée du Louvre, RF 29341 bis;
  5. Jean-Louis Forain, Woman at the flowered terrace (or Young woman standing on a balcony, contemplating Parisian roofs), watercolour, Musée d'Orsay, RF 29342;
  6. Constantin Guys, Young woman and her duègne, watercolour, Musée d'Orsay, RF 29334;
  7. Constantin Guys, The presentation of the visitor (or Visitor presentation), pen and wash, Musée d'Orsay, RF 29335;
  8. Constantin Guys, Riders and Amazons, pen and watercolour, Musée d'Orsay, RF 29336;
  9. Constantin Guys, The Emperor’s Lodge during a performance of Madame Viardot in «Orpheus» (or The Emperor’s Lodge), pen and watercolour, Musée d'Orsay, RF 29337;
  10. Constantin Guys, Revue aux Invalides by Emperor Napoleon III (or A review in Les Invalides), pen and watercolour, Musée d'Orsay, RF 29338;
  11. Pierre-Jules Mène, The amazon presumed to be Her Majesty the Empress Eugenie, original wax, Château de Compiègne, C 42.064;
  12. Camille Roqueplan, The stagecoach in danger, watercolour, Louvre Museum, RF 29333.

 

Reminder of the facts:

Armand Dorville, a French Jewish lawyer, died in his home in July 1941, in the «southern zone» of France, under the authority of the Vichy government. His collection and furniture are put up for sale by his executor, in agreement with the heirs. On the first day of the sale of works of art in Nice, June 24, 1942, a provisional administrator was appointed by the Commissariat général aux questions juives. The sale achieved good results (8.1 MF). The national museums bought twelve works for 270,000 francs. Six months later, in December 1942, the provisional administrator finally asked that the family be exempted from provisional administration measures. The Vichy administration accepted it in July 1943 and the proceeds of the sales were then sent in the form of state debt securities to the family notary. But the heirs are scattered in the south of France, which will prevent them from actually receiving what is due to them. In March 1944, five members of the family, including a sister, two nieces heirs of Armand Dorville and two daughters of his nieces, were arrested, deported and murdered in Auschwitz. After the war, the surviving heirs received the proceeds of sales, which were incorporated into the settlement of Armand Dorville’s estate in 1947.