The Vanished Collection

Pauline Baer de Perignon, trans. from the French by Natasha Lehrer. New Vessel, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-939931-98-6

Baer de Perignon recounts her remarkable quest to pursue her family’s lost art collection in this riveting debut. When she learned from a cousin that paintings owned by her great-grandfather, a respected Jewish art collector, may have been stolen by Nazis during WWII (rather than sold in an auction, as she’d been told), Baer de Perignon went on a hunt to reclaim her family’s contribution to French art history. Over the next several years, her quest took her from the archives of the Musée d’Orsay to the Louvre and the German Federal Archives, and leads from each—and unexpected information from Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano—brought Baer de Perignon closer to unearthing the truth. With the help of family members, museum curators, and art historians, Baer de Perignon eventually secured the return of Tiepolo’s Shepherd from the Louvre and Largillière’s Portrait of a Lady as Pomona from the Dresden museum after a complicated restitution process. More moving discoveries that come to the fore during her pursuit are those she realizes about herself: “In my brilliant family... I’ve often felt left behind... This was where I belonged.” This page-turner will delight art history and mystery fans alike. (Jan)