Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Present Online Google Talk, 2/7

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Present Online Google Talk, 2/7

As part of the renewed interest in the heroic efforts of the Monuments Men, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are presenting an online Google Art Talk this Friday, February 7 with other experts discussing their real life connections to the feature film "The Monuments Men," opening Friday. Thomas Carr Howe, Jr. (1904-1994), the director of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco from 1939 through 1968, played a significant role in the events depicted in the upcoming film, which focuses on a group of museum professionals sent to Europe to save cherished art works stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

Beginning Saturday, February 8 in Gallery 14, the Legion of Honor will exhibit a painting recovered by the Monuments Men. The painting, Portrait of a Lady (ca. 1620) by Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) was at one time in the possession of Hermann Goering. It was later returned to its rightful owners and subsequently given to the Legion of Honor by the Roscoe and Margaret Oakes Collection.

About the Google Art Talk

On February 7 at 12 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) join the Legion of Honor and the Google Art Project for an online Art Talk about the true stories of the Monuments Men. Watch presentations by representatives from the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; University of California, Berkeley; Archives of American Art; The Frick Art Reference Library; and the American Institute for Conservation Oral History Project - all institutions whose directors, curators, and conservators spearheaded this noble endeavor.

Follow the Legion of Honor on Google+ to log into the Art Talk online, or view it in person at the de Young in the Koret Auditorium or at the Legion of Honor in the Florence Gould Theater. Admission to the Koret Auditorium is free and open to the public. Museum admission is required to visit the Florence Gould Theater. Have a question about the Monuments Men? Post it on Twitter@legionofhonor #monumentsmen!

More on Thomas Carr Howe, Jr.

Howe wrote one of the first books about the Monuments Men, and was a witness to historical moments that a museum chief could only dream: Entering a salt mine in Austria and unearthing Michelangelo's Madonna and Child (1501); overseeing the salvage of theGhent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck (1432), arguably Belgium's most precious art work. He also traveled to Hitler's mountain hideaway in Berchtesgaden to retrieve the stolen loot taken by Goering, the infamous Nazi commander who served as Hitler's primary art thief when his armies invaded Europe.

Howe worked directly under Lieutenant Commander George L. Stout, depicted by director/star George Clooney in the film, the chief of the Monuments Men division in Germany, and also worked with several key players in the section. His adventures included the accidental discovery of the Rothschild jewels from the Altaussee salt mine near Salzburg, Austria, which Howe recounted in his book on the Monuments Men, "Salt Mines and Castles: The Discovery and Restitution of Looted European Art."

"I lifted the lid...on the cotton beneath lay a magnificent golden pendant studded with rubies emeralds and pearls,' he wrote. "There were forty boxes filled with jewels - necklaces, pendants and brooches - all of equal splendor. Each piece bore a minute tag on which appeared an identifying letter and a number. These were the Rothschild jewels. And we had stumbled upon them quite by accident.'

Under Howe's direction, the Vienna Rothschild Collection was evacuated from a monastery in Czechoslovakia. He witnessed the removal of Vermeer's The Artist's Studio (1665), and helped recover 15 cases of stolen Italian artwork removed from Monte Cassino by SS troops as a birthday gift for Goering. He also discovered a painting by 16th century Venetian artist Paris Bordone, Portrait of a Young Woman (1550), which had previously been on loan to his own museum in San Francisco.

Howe received honors from the Dutch government for his work as one of the Monuments Men and later was made a knight of the French Legion of Honor. Howe retired from San Francisco's Legion of Honor after 39 years as its director and died in 1994 at the age of 89.


de Young

Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118

Open 9:30 am?5:15 pm Tuesdays?Sundays; Open select holidays; Closed most Mondays

Legion of Honor

Lincoln Park, 34th Avenue & Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94121

Open 9:30 am?5:15 pm Tuesdays?Sundays; Open select holidays; Closed most Mondays

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, are the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition and was established as the Memorial Museum. Thirty years later, it was renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, a longtime champion of the museum. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, opened in October 2005. It showcases the institution's significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international contemporary art.

The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion, a replica of the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris, at San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. The museum opened in 1924 in the Beaux Arts-style building designed by George Applegarth on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Its holdings span four thousand years and include European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.