Frederic E. Ossorio (1919-2005)
Frederic Eugene Ossorio was born July 13, 1919 in Manila, the Philippines. He left the Philippines in 1927 with his family, and after living in London and New York, settled in Greenwich, CT in 1935. He attended Yale University where he studied European History, and graduated with the class of 1942. That same year he enrolled in Harvard Business School, attending only briefly before being called to military service in November. In January 1943 he was sent to the newly established Army Administration School at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, PA.
In April 1944 Ossorio was sent overseas to North Africa. He served first in Casablanca, and in June was assigned to Headquarters Replacement and Training Command in Oran, Algeria, where he worked in Personnel Statistics. He was later transferred to Europe and took part in the 1944 Rome-Arno Campaign. Discharged from the Army on January 21, 1946, Ossorio chose to remain in Austria to assist with restitution efforts. That same month he began civilian work at the assimilated rank of Second Lieutenant, working in Vienna as an Administrative Assistant in the Property Control Branch of the Reparations, Deliveries and Restitutions (RD&R) Division, U.S. Allied Commission for Austria Section. In March he traveled to Bad Ischl, Austria with Robert M. Miller of the MFA&A, and Jean Vlug of the Royal Netherlands Army. There, they retrieved Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, Field with Poppies, from the Lauffen salt mine for delivery to the Munich Collecting Point. (This painting appears to be Field of Poppies near Auvers-Sur-Oise, ca. 1890.) Ossorio remained with the RD&R until July 14, 1946.
After returning to the U.S. in 1946, Ossorio worked for the Victorias Milling Company, a sugar manufacturing company founded by his father in the Philippines, and for Ossorio Securities. From 1961 to 1984 he served on the board of Amstar Corporation. He also continued his involvement in the arts, an interest that had its roots in the Ossorio family. His brother Alfonso was a noted visual artist, and brother Robert a dancer and founder of the Manhattan School of Ballet. Frederic and his wife Siena collected works by Alfonso Ossorio, as well as by artists such as Richard Pousette-Dart and Lee Bontecou. They also donated works to institutions such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. They donated a number of works by Alfonso Ossorio to the Harvard Art Museums and, with Robert Ossorio, were involved in the establishment there of an endowment that supports scholarship and exhibitions of Alfonso’s work. Frederic Ossorio passed away on May 27, 2005 in Boulder, CO at 85 years of age.
*The Foundation wishes to express thanks to Kathleen Kenyon for her contribution to this biographical profile.
In a letter from Frederic E. Ossorio dated 11 March 46, Ossorio writes of picking up "a van Gogh - the Red Poppy Field which had been stolen from Holland for Baldur von Schirach." This appears to be the painting Field of Poppies Near Auvers-sur-Oise (oil on canvas, 73.0 x 91.5 cm, #NK2511), now in the collection of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. In 1941 it was inherited by R.A. Kröller of The Haag. Between May and June of 1942 it was with Huinck & Scherjon art dealers in Amsterdam. Baldur von Schirach acquired it in June of 1942 with the help of the Dienststelle Mühlmann and S. van Deventer, director of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Detailed provenance information is available through the database at http://www.herkomstgezocht.nl/eng/index.html.