Ind. Gauguin painting has history with 'Monuments Men'

    7:22 AM, Feb 14, 2014   |    comments
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    INDIANAPOLIS (CNN/WISH) -- A Hollywood movie has close ties to a real life painting that's on display at the Indianapolis Museum of art. A Gauguin painting at the museum and an Indiana man are part of the real story of the "Monuments Men."

    Among the paintings in a collection hanging in a gallery at the Indianapolis Museum of Art is this Gauguin still life.

    Associate Curator for Research Annette Schlagenhauff says the painting now worth millions, was part of a 1998 museum purchase and donation from a Hungarian collector. She said, "This was painted on the coast in Brittany in a town called Pont Aven."

    In fact all the paintings in this collection at IMA were painted in Pont Aven. But it turns out, the Gauguin had a journey the museum just discovered.

    "Monuments Men" tells the story of a group of people from 13 nations with expertise in the arts who found and saved priceless works stolen and hidden by the Nazis. The Gaugin at the museum is one of those saved paintings.

    This part of the painting's story had eluded the museum until Schlagenhauff read a memoir written by Kokomo native Thomas Carr Howe Jr. describing his time as a real life monuments man. She said, "And reading his memoir I learned that it was Howe who was sent by Central Command to go to this town and evacuate those paintings."

    A colleague in Washington DC confirmed the Gauguin was among the Monument Men's saved paintings because she had a picture of it at a collection point in Munich; a discovery made only a week ago. Schlagenhauff said, "So that we can now say that a painting now hanging in Indianapolis safeguarded by a monuments man who was born in Indiana."

    After the Gauguin was recovered by Howe it was returned to its owner in Hungary and an heir later sold it to the IMA.

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