The Berlin Museum is returning the Pissarro painting looted by the Nazis – and then buying it back


The Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin has restituted and bought back a painting by Camille Pissarro that the heirs of the Jewish lawyer Armand Dorville had to auction in France in 1942.

Dorville acquired the painting from 1867, A place in La Roche-Guyon, 1928 in Paris. His collection comprised around 450 works, including paintings by Renoir, Bonnard, Vuillard, Delacroix and Manet. After the German army occupied Paris in 1940, Dorville fled to southern France with part of his collection. He died in July 1941 and left his estate to his three siblings and four nieces, who were also persecuted as Jews in Vichy France.

His heirs sold the rest of his collection at auction in Nice in June 1942, but were denied access to the proceeds, which were monitored by the Commissariat Général aux Questions Juives. Several family members from Dorville were later deported and murdered in Auschwitz.

Pissarro visited an artist friend in La Roche-Guyon north of Paris in 1867 and painted there with Paul Guillemet and Paul Cézanne. The Berlin National Gallery bought the work from a London art gallery in 1961. It remains on display in the Alte Nationalgalerie after the family has agreed to sell it back to the Berlin Museum.

“This Pissarro painting is an important work for our collection because it marks a significant step towards impressionist art, which is one of the core holdings of the Alte Nationalgalerie,” says Ralph Gleis, director of the museum. “I would like to thank the heirs of Armand Dorville for the trust this acquisition has placed in this institution.”

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