MFA Boston Announces Major Gift from Rothschild Heirs, Including Family Treasures Recovered from Austria After WWII

  • BOSTON, Massachusetts
  • /
  • February 23, 2015

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A commode with corner cupboards attributed to Claude‑Charles Saunier
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is acquiring a collection of 186 objects originally owned by Baron and Baroness Alphonse and Clarice de Rothschild of Vienna—members of the celebrated Rothschild banking family. The gift includes European decorative arts, furniture, prints, drawings, paintings, and personal objects including jewelry and jeweled objects, miniatures and rare books. Many of these works were seized in 1938 following the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany.

A selection from the gift will be on view in the exhibition Restoring a Legacy: Rothschild Family Treasures from March 1–June 21, 2015. Telling the story of how the objects were collected, looted and then recovered by the family and its heirs, the exhibition—on view in the MFA’s Lee Gallery—offers an evocative sampling of the exquisite objects that earned the admiration of collectors around Europe, embodying what was once known as le goût Rothschild, or “the Rothschild taste.” By tracing the provenance, or ownership history, of the works from the historic Rothschild palaces in Vienna, through World War II and finally back to the Baroness and her daughter, exhibition curators illustrate how generations of Rothschild women worked diligently to secure the return of their family’s treasures.

Portrait of Emma Hart, later Lady Hamilton, George Romney
Museum of Fine arts, Boston

The collection is a gift of the heirs of Bettina Looram de Rothschild, who was a daughter of the Baron and Baroness. Her daughter, MFA Trustee Bettina Burr, is among the donors who have made this gift to the MFA.

Research and documentation on the provenance of the works in the gift is available on Specific details on Nazi-Era provenance research at the MFA can be found at

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