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Defending National TreasuresFrench Art and Heritage Under Vichy$
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Elizabeth Karlsgodt

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804770187

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804770187.001.0001

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(p.67) 3 Exodus
Defending National Treasures
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the massive evacuation of public art collections to makeshift storage depots in chateaux throughout France, involving several hundred thousand objects from more than two hundred museums. This highly organized artistic exodus illustrates the central government's control over the preservation of French national treasures, initiated during the final months of the Third Republic and reinforced under the Vichy regime. Arts officials also considered privately owned objects part of the national patrimony and evacuated several collections from private homes and galleries. The most prestigious private collections were owned by Jews who had voluntarily entrusted their assets to the public museum administration, an act of faith that led to continual conflicts between French and German officials.

Keywords:   national treasures, public art collections, Vichy regime, cultural policy

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