Underestimated for her quiet “mousey” demeanor, Rose Valland (1898 - 1980) is a Power Woman for her courage and cleverness as a World War II art hero whose saved countless art treasures that we all enjoy today. She was one of the few “Monuments Women” among the 345 “Monuments Men” from various nations who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA). And she was an art spy!
For years, Rose risked her life in meticulously thwarting the Nazi's massive art looting scheme that passed through the @JeudePaumeParis. Through eavesdropping (she was secretly fluent in German) and memorizing the inventory of paintings, sculptures, furniture, jewelry, gemstones and beyond, she passed information to the French Resistance and was critical to James Rorimer's success in recovering looted treasures hidden in multiple repositories (castles to salt mines).
Following the war, she spent the rest of her life advocating for the restitution of artworks and objects to the rightful owners and received many honors including: the Legion of Honor, the Medal of the Résistance, the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government, and the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1948. In 1953 she received the long overdue and much-deserved title of “curator”.
Thank you to @RobertEdsel for writing the incredible book “Monuments Men”, and “introducing” us to this extraordinary woman!