War and Art

Second book of the year. I just finished Iliaria Dagnini Brey, The Venus Fixers: the Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers who Saved Italy’s Art during World War II. This is the third book or so I’ve read about the assorted art historians, archaeologists, and architects who were tasked with keeping historical monuments from collapsing and trying to return looted art to its previous homes. Brey’s version is all Italy – and it suffers from that. Indeed, it suffers from altogether too much Florence. I’ll admit that I am a contrarian on the subject of Florence – but if Hobart and William Smith’s program in Italy had been based in Florence rather than Rome, I might not have stayed long enough to become tenure track. Brey has lots of fun anecdotes — she’s best on Frederick Hartt. I wouldn’t recommend it as highly as Robert Edsel’s The Monuments Men.┬áReally, lots of stuff was stolen from all across Europe, and the German side of the story is quite interesting, too.

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