Pierre L. Duchartre (1894-1983)
Pierre L. Duchartre was born on the 8th December 1894. It is not known where he was born, but his family were most likely in literati and scientific circles; his grandfather was the well-known botanist Pierre Duchartre (1811-1894), a member of the Academy of Sciences, and friends of the family include some of the most famous scientific minds of the era.
Pierre L. Duchartre served as one of the leading French Art Representatives in Germany. In August 1945 he undertook with French Lt. Col. G. H. Bosquet and Monuments Woman Capt. Rose Valland an official visit to the U.S. Zone of Occupation in Germany to make a preliminary survey of the problem of returning to France works of art and cultural materials looted from France by the Nazis. Following joint discussions in Hochst with American and British MFAA leaders, the group was escorted to several repositories for looted art by Monuments Man Lt. Col. Mason Hammond. Duchartre and Valland were thus the first French Monuments Officers to visit the salt mine at Heilbronn, where it was decided that unopened crates containing the stained glass windows removed from Strasbourg Cathedral would be immediately shipped to Strasbourg. In the following days, Duchartre and Valland were given tours of the Munich Central Collecting Point, Neuschwanstein Castle, Ingolstadt, Ansbach, and Wurzburg, at each location interviewing the Monuments Officer in charge and making plans for French strategies in regard to the recovery and restitution of French-owned objects.
Duchartre then worked as the leader of the French Restitution Officers at the Munich Central Collecting Point. Together with fellow French Monuments Officers Capt. Hubert de Brye and Capt. Marcelle Minet, Duchartre oversaw the identification of tens of thousands of works of art and other cultural objects looted from French collections by the Nazis.
After his responsibilities with the MFAA ended, Duchartre was both the Inspecteur Principal of the museums of France, as well as Curator of National Museums. However it is not clear whether Duchartre already occupied these posts before the war started, or if they were a post-war promotion.
One of Duchartre’s greatest legacies was his role in the creation of the museum in the city of Gien. As part of post-war reconstruction, the Museum of Shooting, Hunting, and Falconry was inaugurated in 1952 in the local Chateau (it became known as the Chateau-Musee de Gien in 2004). Duchartre played a key role in its foundation, from donating money and items for its collections, to proposing its first curator Henri de Linarès. For his contributions, as well as the many books he wrote on the subject, Duchartre was awarded the Tony Burnand Prize from the Association of Hunting Journalists.
The eminent curator also contributed to the inauguration of the fishing museum in the Chateau de la Bussiere in 1962, of which much of their collections came from Duchartre. He also wrote numerous books on folklore, hunting, the art of France, and the commedia dell-arte, spanning from 1925 until his death in 1983.
Photo courtesy of Heute.