Philippe Gangnat (1904-?)
Engineer and art aficionado, Philippe Gangnat was the son of Maurice Gangnat, a French steel magnate and close friend of the acclaimed Impressionist painter, Pierre Auguste Renoir. A two-year-old Philippe Gangnat even sat for a portrait by the artist in 1906. At the time of Renoir’s death in 1919, Gangnat had purchased an impressive 150 of the artist’s paintings. Philippe Gangnat sold the entire collection, save only fifty paintings, at auction upon his father’s death in 1924. These remaining fifty paintings were later loaned to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for storage from 1937 to 1954.
Gangnat served as a French Restitution Representative to the Offenbach Archival Depot in Offenbach, Germany. He worked alongside fellow French Monuments Men Lt. Col. Jean Prinet and Maj. Paul de le Boulaye to identify and inspect thousands of books and archival materials stolen from France by the Nazis. These three Monuments Men also helped the Depot secure the necessary amount of nails, lumber, freight cars, and other critical items needed to pack, crate, and ship the fragile documents back to France.
Gangnat remained at the Offenbach Archival Depot until March 1946, when he and his countrymen returned to France. Upon their departure, Monuments Man Col. Seymour J. Pomrenze, Director of the Depot, submitted an official Letter of Appreciation conveying his “sincere thanks and appreciation” for their “aid and services to this installation.”
The Foundation is very interested in learning more about Philippe Gangnat’s life, as well as his military service as a Monuments Man. If you have any information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.