FORT WORTH, TX.- The Kimbell Art Museum and Mr. Alain Monteagle jointly announce today the return of Joseph Mallord William Turner’s painting Glaucus and Scylla (1841) to the heirs of John and Anna Jaffé. The painting, which has been in the Kimbell’s collection since 1966, is being returned as the result of discussions over recent months between the Museum and Mr. Monteagle, the representative of the Jaffé heirs. During the past two years, Mr. Monteagle has conducted an investigation into the provenance of the Kimbell Turner, as he had done for other paintings in museums and private collections when it was determined that the Jaffé collection may have been unlawfully seized by the pro-Nazi Vichy regime in France in 1943. As a result, paintings by Francesco Guardi and David Teniers the Younger were restituted last year to the Jaffé heirs by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Further research by Mr. Monteagle and the Kimbell also supported Mr. Monteagle’s claim regarding the Turner.
Mr. Monteagle commented: “On behalf of the heirs, I wish to express the gratitude of my family to the Kimbell Art Museum for the spirit of cooperation with which these discussions have taken place, and for the speed with which the agreement has been reached. I particularly wish to thank the director, Dr. Potts, and curator, Dr. Warner, and the trustees of the Kimbell for their assistance in resolving this issue.”
The painting will remain on view at the Kimbell through Sunday, June 25, as part of the exhibition “Masterpiece: A New Look at the Kimbell Collection.”
John Jaffé, a British subject, was a prominent Jewish art collector who resided at the Villa Jaffé in Nice, France, with his wife, Anna. The couple was well known in the English circle in Nice, and Anna was a friend of the writers Henry James and Marcel Proust. John and Anna even received congratulations on their Diamond wedding anniversary from King George V and Queen Mary.
By the 1930s, much of Europe was becoming an increasingly hostile environment for the Jews. In his will, John commented on the “sadly changing circumstances through which we are passing,” a reference to the rise of National Socialism under Hitler. John and Anna were keenly aware of the current political situation in Germany, and received news from Gustave Cohen, Anna’s nephew and Mr. Monteagle’s grandfather. Mr. Cohen was also the creator of the Maison Descartes in Amsterdam, and later a professor of medieval literature at Strasbourg University and the Sorbonne. A friend of the writers Paul Valéry and Jean Giraudoux, he regularly visited Germany even after 1933.
John Jaffé had acquired Glaucus and Scylla in 1902 from the Sedelmeyer Gallery in Paris. At the time of his death in 1933, the painting was bequeathed to his wife, Anna, who bequeathed her property to her nephews Gustave Cohen, Paul Gluge, and Théophile Gluge, and her niece, Alice Heymann. Anna was trapped in France by the war, and died in Nice on March 7, 1942. The Vichy authorities disregarded her bequest to her niece and nephews, who were in no position to claim their inheritance. Indeed, her nephew Théophile was arrested by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz, where he died. Gustave had fortunately left for New York, where he created the French École Libre des Hautes Études, and he later joined General De Gaulle in Algiers and London.
In July 1943, the Vichy regime unlawfully seized the contents of Anna Jaffé’s home, including the Turner painting, which they proceeded to sell at an auction of “Jewish property” at the Hall du Savoy in Nice on July 12 and 13 that year. More than 60 paintings and many other works of art owned by the Jaffé family were scattered.
In recent months, the Kimbell has worked closely with Mr. Monteagle to clarify the details of the painting’s ownership and movement in the years during and following World War II. After 1943 it does not turn up again in provenance records until 1956, when Emile Leitz of Paris sold it to the art dealer Agnew’s of London. It was then sold to Howard Young Galleries, New York, in 1957, and was owned by a Mrs. Chamberlain in the United States until 1966, when Newhouse Galleries, Inc., sold it to the Kimbell Art Foundation. The information that Newhouse Galleries provided to the Kimbell at the time of the purchase made no mention of the Jaffés, only that after 1902 the painting had belonged to “a French Collector, Paris, France, until after 1950.”
In light of the evidence linking the Turner to an unlawful seizure, the Kimbell has returned the painting to Mr. Monteagle, the representative of the heirs of Anna’s three nephews and one niece (all now deceased) to whom she bequeathed her property in her will.