before I knew this would be one of her last books, I was taking notes, i.e.
“Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be
You can’t be friends with people who call after
Anything you think is wrong with your body at
the age of thirty-five, you will be
nostalgic for at the age of forty-five.
At the age of fifty-five you will get a saggy
roll just above your waist… even if you are painfully thin.
The saggy roll just above your waist will be
especially visible from the back and will force you to reevaluate half the
clothes in your closet, especially the white shirts.”
“The empty nest is underrated.
You can order more than one dessert.
You can’t own too many black turtleneck
Never let them know.
There are no secrets.”
And she ends this book with the following:
“I use this bath oil I happen to love.It’s called Dr. Hauschka’s Lemon Bath.
It costs about twenty dollars a bottle, which
is enough for about two weeks of baths if you follow the instructions.
instructions say one capful per bath.But a capful gets you nowhere.
is not enough.I have known this for a
And listen to this!
“ And if the events of the last few years have
taught me anything it’s that I’m going to feel like an idiot if I die tomorrow
and I skimped on bath oil today.So I
use quite a lot of bath oil.More than
you could ever imagine.
take a bath, my bathtub is as dangerous as an oil slick.
thanks to the bath oil, I’m as smooth as silk.
going out to buy more, right now.
Goodbye”The End of
We, of course, are not going to say “Goodbye.”
going to move on to an even more recent book
I Remember Nothing which was published
in 2010 and which I studied innocently in 2011, just for the following tips
which I will share with you.Gleaning
Page 65 – “For example, here’s how we cook
steak in our house:
you coat the steak in kosher salt.Then
you cook the steak in a very hot frying pan.
When it’s done, you throw a huge pat of butter
on top of it.
the way, I’m not talking about sweet
butter… I’m talking about salted butter.”
Page 67 – “So this is my moment to say what’s
been in my heart for years:
It’s time to put a halt to the egg-white
want to confuse this with something actually important, like the war in
However, I don’t seem to be able to do anything
about the war, but I do have a shot at cutting down consumption of egg-white
You don’t make an omelette by taking OUT the
You make one by putting additional yolks
A really great omelette has two whole eggs and
one extra yolk.
As for egg salad, here’s our recipe:
Boil eighteen eggs, peel them, and send six of
the egg whites to friends in California who think that egg whites matter even
slightly in anyway.
Chop the remaining twelve eggs and six yolks
coarsely with a knife, and add Hellmann’s mayonnaise and salt and pepper to
testify personally…this is Yum.
Page 70 – After a long treatise about the well
documented dangers and evils of Teflon coated pans, she says:
“I love Teflon.I love the no-carb ricotta pancake I invented last year which can be
cooked only on Teflon.”
Beat one egg, add one-third cup fresh
whole-milk ricotta, and whisk together.
Heat up a Teflon pan until carcinogenic gas is
released into the air.
tablespoons of batter into the frying pan and cook about two minutes on one
side, until brown.Carefully flip.Cook for another minute to brown the other
side.Eat with jam!Serves one.”
To tell the truth, much as I have enjoyed these
recipes, reading them, making them, and eating the results, we have to wonder
if this wildly cavalier way with butter and Teflon might not have actually
impacted Nora’s health.
As Ludmila shared the food in her barn, so Norah shared her food with friends and the world.
One of the most delicious dishes in the world is hot pasta with fresh cold tomatoes, cold pressed virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese. It may sound strange, but it is exquisitely wonderful. Here is Nora Ephron’s recipe:
Linguine alla cecca (check-uh)
“It’s a hot pasta with a cold tomato basil sauce, and it’s so light and delicate that it’s almost like eating a salad. It has to be made in the summer, when tomatoes are fresh. Drop 5 large tomatoes into boiling water for one full minute. Peel and seed and chop. Put into a large bowl with ½ cup olive oil, a garlic clove sliced in two, 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, salt and hot red pepper flakes.
Let it sit for a couple of hours, then remove the garlic. Boil one pound of linguine, drain and toss with the cold tomato mixture. Serve immediately.”
I hadn’t actually referred to this recipe since I first made it in 1983, and I have to admit it’s even more simple to make the way I do it now. Trust me, it is heaven. Page 100 of Heartburn.
That recipe is one of the wonderful things about Nora’s book Heartburn which was made into a movie with, guess who, Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. On page 77 of Heartburn, she writes:
“The next man I was involved with lived in Boston. He taught me to cook mushrooms. He taught me that if you heat the butter very hot and put just a very few mushrooms into the frying pan, they come out nice and brown and crispy, whereas if the butter is only moderately hot and you crowd the mushrooms, they get all mushy and wet. Every time I make mushrooms I think of him.”
But I get ahead of myself.
Choosing one’s topic for one’s annual ’81 Club paper is serious business. Over the years, we have studied the challenge of which topic to choose with almost the same zeal as we study the challenge of writing about that topic. I’m proud of my papers, as are we all, and looking back I see that they are usually about women…usually high profile women such as Mme Marie Curie or Mme Chiang Kai-shek…and nearly always have some references to movies.
But as I was worrying about selecting a topic worthy of presenting to ’81, I was distracted by some reading from a long time favorite author, Nora Ephron.
And that is how this paper today came to write itself.
Now Nora has been with us in the popular media for quite a while…about 55 years to be exact. Each of us has her favorite “Nora” work…such as Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail or more recently, Julie & Julia , all of which bear watching as movies again and again.
And most of us know that Nora died unexpectedly June 26, 2012 at age 71 in New York City.
Unexpectedly, that is, to us, her fans.
NOT unexpectedly to Nora. (folder with clippings)
Reading the fine print in Frank Rich’s article called “Nora’s Secret” in New York Magazine, August 27, 2012 issue, we learn that Nora had been struggling with a terminal illness for six and a half years, and had been in a hospital deathbed the last five weeks of her life. For nearly all of that time, only a half dozen or so immediate family knew that she was ill…and those people did not know much detail.
But we can do the math. We can figure out that some of her most telling and eloquent books were written while she was ill…such as I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, in which she wrote:
“My friend, Henry Grunwald, died a few months ago. He was what we refer to as one of the lucky ones. He died at eighty-two, having lived a full, rich, and successful life. He had coped brilliantly with macular degeneration – for almost two years, most of his friends had no idea he couldn’t see – and then he wrote a book about going blind that will probably outlast all the rest of his accomplishments, which were considerable.
He died of heart failure, peacefully, in his sleep with his adoring family around him. The day before his death, he asked to be brought a large brown accordion folder which he kept in his office. In it were love letters he had received when he was younger. He sent them back to the women who’d written them, wrote them all lovely notes, and destroyed the rest. What’s more, he left complete detailed instructions for his funeral, including the music he wanted – all this was laid out explicitly in a file he had labeled “EXIT”
I so admire Henry and the way he handled his death. It’s inspirational.” (end quote)
INSPIRATIONAL? Inspirational indeed. Remember Nora wrote this about Henry Grunwald in 2006 when she had already been diagnosed with her own terminal illness.
Now that part about the EXIT file is indeed interesting, but even more compelling are the pearls of wisdom at the end.
Moving on to Italy and the
Tuscan and Florentine treasures…
In Italy, museum officials
had evacuated their holdings to various countryside locations such as the
Tuscan villa of Monteguifoni, which housed some of the Florentine collections.
As Allied Forces advanced
through Italy, the German army retreated north, stealing paintings and
sculptures as they fled.As German
forces neared the Austrian border, they were forced to store most of their loot
in various hiding places such as a castle at Sand in Taufers and a jail cell in
Beginning in late March 1945,
Allied forces began discovering these hidden repositories in what would become
the greatest treasure hunt in history.In Germany alone, US forces found about 1,500 repositories that
contained art and cultural objects looted from institutions and individuals
across Europe, as well as from German and Austrian museum collections
Some repositories of special
Berchtesgaden, Germany – 1,000
paintings and sculptures stolen by Hermann Goring.The cache had been evacuated from his country
estate, Carinhall, and moved in 1945 to protect it from invading Russian
Bernterode, Germany – four
coffins containing the remains of Germany’s greatest leaders including
Frederick the Great andField Marshal
Paul Von Hindenburg
Merkers, Germany – General
George Patton in April 1945 found
Reichsbank gold, along with 400 paintings and
other crates of treasure.More dismal
discoveries included gold and personal belongings from Nazi concentration camp
Altaussee, Austria – This
extensive complex of salt mines served as a huge repository for stolen art
including Vermeer’s TheAstronomer and The Art of Painting, and paintings from the Capodimonte Museum in
Naples stolen by Hermann Goring.
San Leonardo, Italy – In the
jail cell of this very northern town Allied officials discovered paintings from
the Uffizi that had been hurriedly unloaded by retreating German
troops…paintings by Botticelli, Filippo Lippi and Giovanni Bellini.
This is a very superficial
listing, and the scope of the project truly defies imagination.
By July 1945, US forces had
established three central collecting points within the US Zone in Germany, and
American organizational skills started to take over.
The first director of the
collecting points, Captain Walter Farmer,and 35 others who were in charge of the Wiesbaden collection point, were
compelled to draw up what has become known as the “Wiesbaden Manifesto” on 7
November 1945 declaring “We wish to
state that, from our own knowledge, no historical grievance will rankle so long
or be the cause of so much justified bitterness as the removal for any reason
of a part of the heritage of any nation even if that heritage may beinterpreted as a prize of war.”
Among the co-signers was Lt.
Charles Percy Parkhurst of the US Navy.
Regarding the occupation of
Japan, as the war neared its end in
Japan in 1945, George Stout
and fellow Monuments Man Major Laurence Sickman recommended creating an MFAA
division in Japan.Consequently the Arts
and Monuments Division …of the Allied Powers in Tokyo was established.
Langdon Warner, archaeologist
and curator of Oriental art at Harvard’s Fogg Museum, and early mentor of
Laurence Sickman, advised the MFAA Section in Japan until September 1946.
To sum it all up, the
American museum establishment led the efforts to create the MFAA section both
in Europe and Japan.Included in this
group were current museum directors, curators and art historians, as well as
those who wanted to be museum
directors, curators and art historians.
Upon returning home from
service overseas, these men and women led the creation or improvement of some
of the leading cultural institutitons in the US.Many major museums employed one or more MFAA
officers before or after the war, including the National Gallery of Art, the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Nelson-Atkins
Museum of Art.
Many other Monuments Men were
professors at esteemed universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, New York
University, Williams College and Columbia University, among others.Paul J. Sachs’ famous “Museum Course” at
Harvard educated dozens of future museum personnel.S. Lane Faison’s passion for art history was
passed on to hundreds of students and future museum leaders at Williams College
in the 1960s and 1970s, some of whom are currently directors at major US
Other MFAA personnel became
founders, presidents, and members of cultural institutions such as the New York
City Ballet, the American Association of Museums, the American Association of
Museum Directors, the Archaeological Institute of America, the Society of
ArchitecturalHistorians, the American
Society of Landscape Architects, and the National Endowment for the Humanities
and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as respected artists,
architects, musicians and archivists.
Two Monuments Men officers
were killed in Europe, both near the front lines of the Allied advance into
They were Captain Walter
Huchthausen, an American scholar and architect attached to the US 9th
Army, killed in April 1945 by small arms fire somewhere north of Essen and east
of Aachen, Germany
And Major Ronald Edmund
Balfour, a British scholar attached to the Canadian First Army, killed in March
1945 by an explosion in Cleves, Germany.
In 1943 the Monuments, Fine
Arts, and Archives (MFAA) program was established by the Civil Affairs and
Military Government Sections of the Allied armies to help protect cultural
property in war areas during and after World War II.
This group of about 400
service members and civilians worked with military forces to safeguard historic
and cultural monuments from war damage and, as the conflict of WW II came to a
close, to find and return works of art and other items of cultural importance
that had been stolen by the Nazis or hidden for safekeeping.
Many of the men and women of
the MFAA went on to have prolific careers.
Largely art historians and museum personnel, they had formative roles in
the growth of many of the United States’ greatest cultural institutions.
But even before the U.S.
entered World War II, art professionals and organizations were working to
identify and protect European art and monuments in danger of Nazi
plundering. Commonly referred to as the
Roberts Commission, this early group was dissolved in June 1946 when the State
Department took over with the formation of the MFAA.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
facilitated the work of the MFAA by forbidding looting, destruction, and
billeting (or camping out) in structures of cultural significance. He also repeatedly ordered his forces to
assist the MFAA as much as possible.
This was the first time in
history an army attempted to fight a war and at the same time reduce damage to
cultural monuments and property.
“Prior to this war, no army had thought of protecting
the monuments of the country in which and with which it was at war, and there
were no precedents to follow…All this was changed by a general order issued by
Supreme Commander-in-Chief Eisenhower just before he left Algiers, an order
accompanied by a personal letter to all Commanders…the good name of the Army
depended in great measure on the respect which it showed to the art heritage of
the modern world.”
As Allied Forces made their
way through Europe, liberating Nazi-occupied territories, Monuments Men were
present in very small numbers at the front lines. Lacking handbooks, resources, or supervision,
this initial handful of officers relied on their museum training and overall
resourcefulness to perform their tasks.
There was no established
precedent for what they confronted. They
worked in the field and were also actively involved in battle
preparations. In preparing to take
Florence, for example, which was used by the Nazis as a supply distribution
center due to its central location in Italy, Allied troops relied on aerial
photographs provided by the MFAA which were marked with monuments of cultural
importance so that pilots could avoid damaging such sites during bombings.
When damage did occur, MFAA
personnel worked to assess the damage and buy time for the eventual restoration
work that would follow. Monuments
officer Deane Keller had a prominent role in saving the Campo Santo in Pisa
after a mortar round started a fire that melted the lead roof, which then bled
down the iconic 14th century fresco-covered walls.
Keller led a team of Italian
and American troops and restorers in recovering the remaining fragments of the
frescoes and in building a temporary roof to protect the structure from further
Restoration of those frescoes
continues even today.
Frequently entering liberated
towns and cities ahead of ground troops, Monuments Men worked quickly to assess
damage and make temporary repairs before moving on with Allied Armies as they
conquered Nazi territory.
American and Allied Forces
discovered hidden caches of priceless treasures, many of which had been looted
by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, while others had been legitimately evacuated
from German, French or Italian museums for safekeeping. Monuments Men oversaw the safeguarding,
cataloguing, removal and packing of all works, regardless of their origin.
It’s impossible not to diverge
here with the story of La BelleFerronniere.
Resisting bullying for children - Emily Breaks FreeWe can justify this detour because at the end
of the day it is the story of another piece of misplaced art as a result of
another war, World War I, and more intriguingly, has surprising Kansas City
In 1919 a returning World War
I veteran named Harry Hahn and his French war bride attempted to sell what they
thought was a painting by Leonardo da Vinci in New York. The renowned art dealer, Sir Joseph Duveen
declared the picture – La BelleFerronniere – a fake without ever seeing
the canvas. The Hahns sued Duveen for
slander, setting off a legal battle that would last for decades, in the course
of which art authentication was forever changed. But that is another paper.
The fun part of the Hahn
story is the back story about Harry Hahn himself. In 1917 he enlisted in the army, serving
first in Texas and then in France.
Although he boasted that he was a highly decorated captain and an
aviator, there is reason to suppose he was actually a sergeant and a
mechanic. In 1919 he married a French girl named Andree
Ladoux, who lived with her godmother, Josephine Massot, a milliner.
One of Josephine’s friends
was an eccentric woman of dubious aristocracy named Louise de Montaut, whom
Andree called her “aunt.” Mme de Montaut
possessed a painting that she had always been told was by Leonardo da Vinci,
and when Andree and Harry Hahn got married on July 12, 1919, she – amazingly –
gave them this picture of potentially immense value as a wedding present. Although there is some reason to doubt that
she ever actually gave it to the Hahns as a gift. From this point, the “facts” become even more
tangled, and are very likely part truth and part myth.
Anyway, La Belle Ferronniere was brought to America, not by the Hahns when
they returned to Junction City, Kansas, in 1919, where Harry became a car
salesman, but by Mme de Montaut who arrived in New York June 1920. Even before the Hahns left France they had
begun to make efforts to sell the painting in the U.S.
Only three days after Mme de Montaut and the
painting arrived in America, Joseph Duveen received that famous early morning phone call from a reporter at the New York World who asked his opinion of
the painting that had been offered to the Kansas City Art Institute for
something like $250,000. Although he had
never seen the Hahn picture, Duveen did not hesitate to declare it a fake,
pointing out that the original was, after all, in the Louvre, and so this could
be ONLY a copy.
The painting in the Louvre is
a late 15th century portrait of a woman thought to be Lucrezia
Crivelli, mistress of the Duke of Milan, or possibly his wife. Another of his mistresses, Cecilia Gallerani,
is depicted by Leonardo as the Lady with
an Ermine which we have seen on the cover of the Monuments Men book.
What a tangle. So the lawsuit between Duveen and the Hahns
went on for years. By 1996 there were 29
leins worth almost $42 million on the painting.
And this book, by John Brewer, has so much suffocating detail…Suffice it
to say the names of Frank Glenn and Thomas Hart Benton are also part of the
Kansas City story.
At the end of the day, amidst
and as the result of all the intervening squabbling, the painting La Belle Ferronniere was auctioned at
Sotheby’s in New York City on January 28, 2010.
There was lots of press surrounding the auction. According to Sotheby’s catalog,
“ recent technical examination of the infamous
portrait including pigment analysis, indicates that the Hahn painting dates
from the seventeenth century… thus confirming a previous scholarly opinion that
it was not by Leonardo…although it might possibly have been painted by the
French baroque painter Laurent de la Hyre.”
The presale estimate was
$300,000-$500,000, and it actually sold at auction for $1,300,000 to an
anonymous American private collector.
Alan and I were among the many people who wanted to see it…and I will
say it was a beautiful painting as you can see from the book cover.
And so our detour ends…its back
to The Monuments Men.
And so, resuming our story about the #MonumentsMen…
Then…there are the Nazi albums
During the course of his research into the whereabouts of lost art and the efforts to save it, Edsel discovered the existence of two large, leather-bound photograph albums which documented portions of the European art looted by the Nazis.The two albums were in the possession of the heirs of an American soldier who was stationed in the Berchtesgaden area of Germany in the closing days of World War II.
The albums were created by the staff of the Third Reich’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (more comfortably known as the ERR), a special unit that found and confiscated the best material in Nazi-occupied countries. In France, the ERR engaged in an extensive and elaborate art looting operation, part of Hitler’s much larger premeditated scheme to steal art treasures from conquered nations. The albums were created for Hitler and high-level Nazi officials as a catalog to give Hitler a way to choose the art for his own museum in Austria. A group of these photograph albums was presented to Hitler on his birthday in 1943. Nearly 100 albums were created during the years of their art looting operation. We do not know what happened to the other 98.
These must have been amazing albums, and only the two Edsel albums are known to have survived the war. Robert Edsel worked with the owners of the two albums to acquire them for preservation. In November 2007, at another ceremony at The White House with the Archivist of the United States, Robert Edsel announced the existence of these albums to the public, as well as his donation of the albums to the National Archives.
National Archivist Allen Weinstein called the discovery “one of the most significant finds related to Hitler’s premeditated theft of art and other cultural treasures to be found since the Nuremberg trials.”
So in summary, these extraordinary measures taken by Robert Edsel very much put The Monuments Men on the map for the current generation. The photos in the books are fascinating and are information for a whole new generation of Americans.
One of the iconic Da Vinci paintings, Lady With an Ermine (Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani) (see book cover and page 251) is reminiscent of and frequently mentioned in the same breath with the painting La Belle Ferronniere.The authenticity of La BelleFerronniere as a painting by Leonardo da Vinci was disputed in an infamous 1929 court case.According to information provided by Sotheby’s where it was auctioned about four years ago, the work was likely painted by a French artist in the seventeenth century.
It’s impossible not to diverge here with the story of
La Belle Ferronniere...So stay tuned for more anon.