Rose Valland, on “the Art Front”

Coordination scientifique : Corinne Bouchoux

In Germany for the recovery operation (1945-1954)

Carte de la zone soviétique (MAE/ARD/RA/carton 133 A 79)

Map of the soviet zone (MAE/ARD/RA/carton 133 A 79), Rose Valland, 20th century, paper and ink, Paris, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, © Ministère des Affaires Etrangères

In her memoirs, Rose Valland recounts how she lived the Liberation. After the war, she worked on tracking down the looted or “lost” works. She also took part in the reconstruction of German museums.

With her brave and exhausting Resistance dedicated to the collection and transmission of data behind her, Rose Valland was truly shocked by the vision of Germany falling apart. “Everywhere along the way, I was confronted, as if risen from a four-year-old past, with the Exode’s tragic processions. The distress was no different…”

Her mission – to locate the caches and the works – was an unqualified success. Roger Humbert who knew Rose Valland in Berlin after the war, was keen to honour her in a presentation delivered 15 May 1999 in the framework of the Rose Valland exhibition in Saint Etienne de Saint Geoirs.

As a fine arts officer she remained on the territory controlled by the French first army. In 1947, she was promoted to the key post of the art recovery mission in Germany. In this capacity, she visited all the occupation zones, including the Soviet zone. She drew freehand this map and drafted at least four reports (that can be consulted in the Archives de l'occupation française en Allemagne et en Autriche at Colmar).


Back in France in 1953, she became head of the Service de protection des works d'art (Commission for the Protection of Works of Art) in recognition of her expertise and she was appointed conservator of the French Musées nationaux (decree 21 April 1955). She retired in 1968.

In Germany for the recovery operation (1945-1954)