Director of the French national museums during WWII, Jaujard oversaw the protection of thousands of pieces of artwork.

03 Dec 1895 1
Asnières-sur-Seine, France 2
21 Jun 1967 2
Paris, France 2

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Personal Details

Full Name:
Jacques Jaujard 2
03 Dec 1895 1
Asnières-sur-Seine, France 1
21 Jun 1967 1
Paris, France 1
Cause: Heart attack 3
Position: Secretary General of the Ministry of State in charge of cultural affairs 3
Employer: French Order of Arts and Letters 3
Position: Director 3
Start Date: 1944 3
Employer: Musées Nationaux 3
Position: Secretary general (1926); Deputy director (1933); Director (1939) 3
Awards: Medal of Resistance; Commander of the Legion of Honour 3

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The Ghent Altarpiece

Excerpt from the New York Times, 1944, about Jaujard and the Ghent Altarpiece:

“It had been agreed by the Belgian authorities, the French museum directors and Count von Metternich that the triptych was not to be moved from its resting place in Pau without an order signed by the three members representing each organization. In August 1943 the Germans gave orders to carry away the painting. This order, not being signed by the three authorities, was disregarded by the French authorities. Six hours later a paper signed by Abel Bonnard, then Minister of Fine Arts at Vichy, arrived and ordered the French to deliver the van Eyck to a German officer. This was done . . . There was a concerted protest to Vichy on the part of M. Jaujard and his colleagues. Vichy replied that it considered this a revolt and would dismiss M. Jaujard. Whereupon the trustees of the Louvre replied that if Jaujard was dismissed they, too, would leave. Nothing more came of it and M. Jaujard is still at his post.” (N.Y. Times, Sept. 9, 1944)


Jaujard in WWII

During the Nazi occupation of France, Jaujard was the director of the French national museums (Musées Nationaux). He led the protection of many works of art, including those from Louvre and even private collections. He moved many artworks to the French countryside, and private collections were often saved by having the museums use their right of preemption to acquire the pieces before they could be sold elsewhere; sometimes the dates of acquisition for the collections were even changed to make it look like they had been acquired before the war. Then, in the fall of 1944, Jaujard helped establish the Commission on Art Recovery (Commission de Récupération Artistique), which facilitated the restitution of French art to its rightful owners. 

Saving Mona Lisa...

Extensive information about Jacques Jaujard's heroic role in the protection of the Louvre's art during World War II is in Saving Mona Lisa: The Battle to Protect the Louvre and its Treasures During World War II (Heliopa Press, 2014). 

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