Judith is lost

11 May

Sebastiano Luciani del Piombo, “Judith and Holofernes,” c.1525, Oil on canvas, 94 x 72 cm, Gemaldegaleri, Berlin, Germeny

Lost artworks are original pieces of art that credible sources indicate once existed but that cannot be accounted for in museums or private collections or are known to have been destroyed.    Unfortunately, I have to mention this because “Judith and Holofernes” by del Piombo was destroyed during World War II.

I had never considered how many works of art were destroyed during war.   Because I had the fortune to live in a country untouched by modern warfare (until 9/11).   It was only when i traveled to Europe that the destruction made sense.   Or that I realized that efforts were made to protect art from destruction.

In Germany, Flak towers were built as above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers – used by the Luftwaffe to defend against Allied air raids during World War II for tens of thousands of people and to coordinate air defense.   This particular painting by del Piombo was owned by the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.  Although most of the museum’s collection survived the war in shelters across Germany, 417 works were regarded as too large to take to remote hiding places and were deposited in the Friedrichshain flak tower, or Flakturm, of the the Kaiser Friedrich Museum.     The tower was burned in May of 1945 and the works of art were lost.

No wonder Judith looks so sad.

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For more information on lost works of art, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute maintains a digital collection of 169 Masterpieces Destroyed in the War.

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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Story


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