A singular man in the history of modern art, betrayed by Vichy, is the subject of this riveting family memoir
On September 20, 1940, one of the most famous European art dealers disembarked in New York, one of hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Vichy France. Leaving behind his beloved Paris gallery, Paul Rosenberg had managed to save his family, but his paintings—modern masterpieces by Cézanne, Monet, Sisley, and others—were not so fortunate. As he fled, dozens of works were seized by Nazi forces and the art dealer’s own legacy was eradicated.
More than half a century later, Anne Sinclair uncovered a box filled with letters. “Curious in spite of myself,” she writes, “I plunged into these archives, in search of the story of my family. To find out who my mother’s father really was . . . a man hailed as a pioneer in the world of modern art, who then became a pariah in his own country during the Second World War. I was overcome with a desire to fit together the pieces of this French story of art and war.”
Drawing on her grandfather’s intimate correspondence with Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and others, Sinclair takes us on a personal journey through the life of a legendary member of the Parisian art scene in My Grandfather’s Gallery. Rosenberg’s story is emblematic of millions of Jews, rich and poor, whose lives were indelibly altered by World War II. Sinclair’s journey to reclaim her family history paints a picture of modern art on both sides of the Atlantic between the 1920s and 1950s that reframes twentieth-century art history.