MaryKate Cleary will speak on  ‘The Galerie Paul Rosenberg: Transnational Networks and the Market for French Contemporary Art, 1918–1945’

Monday, 17th May at 6 p.m.

By the start of World War I, art dealer, collector and publisher Paul Rosenberg (1881–1959) had developed a successful business and legendary stock of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French art. He specialized in Barbizon School, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and after 1918, represented the young artists of contemporary Paris, including Marie Laurencin, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque. Rosenberg was the first art dealer systematically to expand the lineage of the Great French Masters to encompass the inter-war avant-garde, a strategy that made him one of most financially successful art dealers of the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1920s and 1930s, Rosenberg also built an unparalleled network of networks and dealer collaborations to distribution French art internationally. As a result of the Nazi Occupation of Paris in 1940, however, Rosenberg became one of the most prominent victims of Nazi spoliation in France.

Engaging for the first time unpublished correspondence, transactional records and photographic material from the recently-processed Paul Rosenberg Archives (MoMA, New York), as well as primary-source materials from state archives in France and Germany, this research investigates the critical role played by Rosenberg in the promotion and sale of French art on an international market in the early twentieth century and the impact of the Nazi regime on his practice. Particular attention will be given to (1) Rosenberg’s entrepreneurial strategies, including placing contemporary art in the lineage of French aesthetic identity of previous centuries; (2) transnational dealer networks between Germany, Britain and the United States; (3) Rosenberg’s institutional engagement, especially in the United States and (4) the plunder of Rosenberg’s collection and gallery stock, filling a critical gap in research into mechanisms of spoliation of against Jewish art dealers and collectors in France during the Occupation, and their agency in restitution.


MaryKate Cleary is an art historian specializing in the art and cultural politics of Germany and France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a particular focus on provenance research, history of collecting and cultural property issues in the Nazi Era. She is pursuing a PhD at the University of Edinburgh, where her research focuses on the Galerie Paul Rosenberg and the transnational market for avant-garde art in the inter-war era.  MaryKate is an experienced provenance researcher, having worked over the past decade with Holocaust victims and their heirs, as well as museums, toward the resolution of Nazi-era restitution claims. She has been an Adjunct Professor at New York University, where she taught the first academic course dedicated to Provenance Research and a Fulbright Fellow at the Technische Universität Dresden. MaryKate is co-organiser of the interdisciplinary Research Cluster on Collecting and the Art Market at the University of Edinburgh.

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