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Carle Dreyfus ( 1875-1952 )

Carle Dreyfus was a respected French curator, art historian, and collector. Paul J. Sachs, Director of the Fogg Museum of Art and Chairman of the American Defense- Harvard Group, once credited his mentor with helping to develop his keen eye for quality works of art.

Dreyfus developed an appreciation for art from his father, Joseph Dreyfus, himself a noted collector and art aficionado. He spent much of his career at the Louvre, becoming an expert on sculpture, objects d’art, and French furniture.  A meticulous researcher, he published several books on the museum’s collection of objects, including Le Mobilier Francais. Epoque de Louis XIV et de Louis XV (1921) and Musee du Louvre: Les Objets d’art du XVIIIe siècle (1923). One of the first of its kind, Tabatières, Boites et Etuis. Orfevreries de Paris, XVIIIe Siècle et Début du XIXe, des Collections du Musée de Louvre (1930) is a critical description of the 163 snuffboxes in the Louvre’s collection, including detailed explanations of the goldsmiths’ markings and an index of featured artists.

In 1933 Dreyfus was promoted to Curator of the Department of Objects d’Art. He was removed from his post in 1940, a consequence of anti-Jewish legislation enacted by the Vichy France government depriving Jews of the right to hold public office. Ousted and in danger, Dreyfus went into hiding with the help of his colleagues, who protected him. Following the liberation of Paris, Dreyfus was called upon as a respected advisor to the Commission de Récupération artistique (French Commission for Art Recovery). As Conservateur Honoraire des Musées Nationaux, Dreyfus participated in plans for the restitution of works of art stolen from France. In December 1945 he made an official trip to Munich alongside Monuments Man Albert Henraux, the Commission’s President.

Dreyfus later resumed his work at the Louvre, where he remained until his death in 1952.

The Foundation is very interested in learning more about Dreyfus’s life, in particular his service as a Monuments Man. If you have any information, please contact abottinelli@monumentsmenfoundation.org.