Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Stephanie R. Miller
During World War II, Nazis stole 60,000 pieces of Jewish-owned cultural valuables from French collections. German leaders were fascinated with art and saw it as a vehicle to bolster their status and power. Art was specifically stolen on behalf of Adolf Hitler, who intended to build his own museum: the Fuhrermuseum.
One of the most influential families in France at that time was the Rothschild family. During World War II, the Jewish family was forced to flee their home while over 3,500 pieces of artwork from the Rothschild collection were stolen. Most were never recovered. I suspect that Jean Honoré Fragonard’s Blind Man’s Buff is one of them. The archives from the Jeu de Paume identify many Fragonard paintings, once owned by the Rothschilds, which were seized by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) Nazi agency.
The provenance of Fragonard’s Blind Man’s Buff, now owned by Toledo Museum of Art, has missing dates and gaps in its timeline, specifically during the seizure of the Rothschilds collections. Evidence indicates the painting was owned by the Rothschild family, at the very latest by 1915. Its next appearance is in New York in 1954, where it is sold and donated to the Toledo Museum.
Although Toledo’s Blind Man’s Buff is not mentioned in the Jeu de Paume records, the question of the provenance still exists. Where was the Toledo painting during this time period and how did it get to New York? Due diligence is required of art dealers, collectors, and museums to investigate the provenance and provide answers. This case study intends to trace the history and location of Blind Man’s Buff.
Ghering, Trinity, "Case Study: Investigation into the Ownership of Jean-Honore Fragonard's Blind Man's Buff (1750-1752)" (2023). Honors Theses. 463.