0291 "Unclaimed" Artworks Entrusted to French Museums after World War II

The Case of Near Eastern Art and Antiquities

  • Anne Dunn-Vaturi (Author)
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

    Anne Dunn-Vaturi earned an MA in art history, archaeology, and museum studies at the École du Louvre, and an MA in archaeology at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Since 2009, she has been a provenance researcher in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before moving to New York, she worked at the Louvre on the audit of long-term loans to other museums and on the task force researching looted art during the Nazi era. She is a specialist in board games and co-curated the exhibition Art du Jeu, Jeu dans l’Art, 2012–2013, Musée de Cluny, Paris, and co-authored Ancient Egyptians at Play (London 2016).

  • François Bridey (Author)
    The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US, New York

    François Bridey is an art historian, archaeologist, and museum curator with degrees from the École du Louvre, the ESCP Business School, the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and the Institut national du patrimoine in Paris. In 2015, he joined the Department of Near Eastern Antiquities at the Musée du Louvre as curator in charge of the ancient Iranian collections, where his research focused on the ceramic traditions of Western Iran. In November 2020, Dr. Bridey was appointed head of the newly created Museums and Cultural Heritage Department of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US.

  • Gwenaëlle Fellinger (Author)
    Musée du Louvre, Paris

    Gwenaëlle Fellinger is senior curator in the Department of Islamic Arts of the Musée du Louvre. A graduate of the École du Louvre, the Sorbonne University, the École nationale supérieure des sciences de l'information et des bibliothèques, and the Institut national du patrimoine, she is in charge of the collections of Qajar Iran, Carpets and Textiles, as well as the Islamic West. She teaches Islamic art at the École du Louvre. Her research focuses mainly on artistic interactions and on material studies in the Islamic Lands from the 7th to the 19th century. She is in charge of the coordination of provenance research in the Department of Islamic Arts.

Identifiers (Article)


Between 1949 and 1953, about 2,100 “unclaimed” artworks returned to France from Germany after World War II were selected by museum professionals and labeled MNR (Musées nationaux récupération). About half of the works are paintings, while thirty percent are decorative arts, and the remaining pieces are drawings, sculptures, folk art, Asian art, and antiquities. This paper presents the so-called AOR (Antiquités orientales récupération), 31 objects entrusted to the care of the Département des Antiquités orientales, Musée du Louvre, which at the time included both pre-Islamic and Islamic objects. Research carried out by the Mission Mattéoli (1997–2000) determined that only two, maybe three, artworks are proven to have been looted by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg during the Nazi occupation of France. The rest of the AOR items were purchases made by German individuals and museums, confirming that the MNR corpus does not equate in its entirety to art plundered from Jewish collections. The study of this portion of the works is an opportunity to shed light on the Near Eastern art and antiquities market in Paris during the war.



Supplementary Content

Musées Nationaux Récupération (MNR), Musée du Louvre, Near Eastern art and antiquities, Islamic art, Joseph Enkiri, Edouard Hindamian, Kalebjian Frères, Arthur Garabed Kevorkian, Walter Bornheim