Chicago Proud to Have Art Pieces Featured in ‘The Monuments Men’
The Monuments Men, which opened in theatres not too long ago, is a must-see for anyone who loves art. Touted as “the greatest treasure hunt in history”, it follows the story of seven art historians and curators tasked with rescuing thousands of pieces of priceless art from the Nazis at the end of World War II and restituting it to their rightful owners.
All based on actual happenings, these men risked their lives to recover a thousand years of culture, knowing that the pieces are bits of history that could have easily been lost forever.
But this emotional story hits much closer to home than you would think. In fact, it hits Chicago specifically as the Art Institute now houses five pieces that were rescued and restituted. The families who lost then reacquired the pieces after the war later went on to sell them to the Art Institute. Here are pieces that were a part of The Monuments Men story.
Sheet of Studies with the Head of the Fornarina and Hands of Madame de Senonnes. This figure drawing by the 19th-century Italian master, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, was preparation for one of his most famous paintings “Raphael and the Fornarina.” It depicts one woman’s head and shoulders, leaning and looking, with three individual hands in different positions. This piece is not currently on display, but can be viewed by request in the Print Study Room.
Virgin and Child. This piece by Jan Gossart is considered one of the finest Northern Renaissance paintings in the collection, according to Eleanor Wood Prince, a curator at the Art Institute. When the Art Institute acquired the painting, they received a detailed history, including the theft from a Parisian family and later a time in the collection of Hermann Goring. This piece is currently on display in gallery 207.
La Source. This small terracotta sculpture is of a child leaning over a jug pouring out water. The French artist, Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, known for his impressive sculptures and busts, created it in the middle of the 19th century. You may not have heard of Carrier-Belleuse, but perhaps you have heard of his assistant, Auguste Rodin. Together, they created works that spanned a multitude of sculptural subjects.
Bust of Anne-Marie-Louise Thomas de Domangeville de Serilly, Comtesse de Pange. This marble bust of an 18th-century woman is beautifully detailed, with her cloth wrap seemingly real fabric. Jean-Antoine Houdon, a French neoclassical sculptor famous for his portrait busts and statues of philosophers, inventors, and political figures of the era, created this piece.
Goblet with Cover. This beautiful silver late Gothic covered cup is not currently on display, but will be soon. It is set to be one of the featured works in the forthcoming galleries of Medieval and Renaissance art at the Art Institute.