A new exhibition celebrating recent gifts of an exquisite European collection to the Museum of Fine Arts (“MFA”) by the heirs of Bettina Looram de Rothschild, who was a daughter of the original owners Baron and Baroness Alphonse and Clarice de Rothschild of Vienna, opened yesterday. Bettina Looram de Rothschild’s daughter, MFA Trustee Bettina Burr, is among the donors who have made these gifts to the MFA. The collection of 186 objects, which was looted during the Nazi era and eventually returned to its rightful owners, consists of European decorative arts, furniture, prints, drawings, paintings, and personal objects, consisting of jewelry and jeweled objects, miniatures, and rare books.
It has been reported that the Rothschild family treasures of some 3,500 pieces from the family’s palaces were discovered by Allied forces in Austria’s salt mines after World War II. Most of the vast European collection was returned to the Rothschild family after Baroness Clarice de Rothschild traveled to the salt mines to identify the family’s art.
While the complete story of the Austrian Rothschild collection may never be pieced together, Ms. Burr noted in a recent article that about 60 pieces are listed on the Art Loss Register (a private database of lost and stolen art works) and she has “a big file, pages and pages, of 3,500 pieces.”
The Rothschild family treasures of the MFA’s new exhibition are said to evoke “the Rothschild taste,” and have been described by Thomas Michie, the MFA senior curator for European decorative arts and sculpture, as “opulent high-style French 18th-century” and “palatial when all together.”
The exhibition remains open through June 21, 2015.