The Virgin Appearing to the Guardian Angel
Giovanni Battista Piazzetta
Oil on canvas, 26 x 18 ½ in. (66.04 x 46.99 cm), Gift of Adolph Loewi, 46.30.
Private Collection, Rome.1 [Antiquaria, Rome (until 1946, stock no. 10,144), sold 1946];2 to [Adolph Loewi, Los Angeles (in 1946, stock no. 11,881), gift 1946];3 to LACMA.
- The painting was seen in an unidentified collection in Rome circa 1943 (Edoardo Arslan, "Nota breve sul Piazetta," Le Arti 5 (1943), p. 206, note.
- The director of Antiquaria was Dr. Alessandro Morandotti. According to Kay Loewi Robertson, Morandotti resigned a position at La Scala in 1936 rather than wear the black shirt of the Fascists. Impressed by Morandotti’s integrity, Adolph Loewi hired him as the director of his antiques firm in Venice. When Loewi, a Jew, fled Italy in early 1939, he turned the firm over to Morandotti for safekeeping. Morandotti moved to Rome, where he established the firm as Antiquaria, concealing the fact that it continued to be owned by a Jew. After the war, Morandotti returned the firm to Loewi, who sold it to Morandotti in 1950. According to the OSS report, Morandotti was an agent for Walter Andreas Hofer, director of the Goering collection and Goering’s chief purchasing agent, and for Josef Angerer (Sepp), Goering’s most important buyer after Hofer. Katherine Loewi Robertson, daughter of Adolph Loewi and, with her husband, successor to his firm, vehemently defends Morandotti as one who risked his own life to hide Jews in his gallery in the Palazzo Massimo, across the street from Gestapo headquarters in Rome. Based on Mrs. Robertson’s testimony —(orally, Sept. 2000) that Morandotti was a "true anti-Nazi and anti Fascist," it is possible that Alessandro Morandotti may have been placed on the OSS list because he sold paintings to Nazi agents—not that he was, in fact, a true collaborator or a recipient of stolen goods.
- Adolph (a.k.a. Adolpho) Loewi, was a dealer of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. He was the leading dealer of textiles and costumes, selling to major collectors and museums in the U.S. and Europe. Much of LACMA’s rich textile collection and its extensive archive of documentation related to the field came from Loewi. Adolph Loewi, a German Jew, established his business in Venice in 1911 and a branch in New York in 1933/34. In early 1939 he left Italy with his family; they brought with them personal possessions and much of their stock. Settling first in New York, they moved to Beverly Hills in the summer of 1939. In Los Angeles the firm of Adolph Loewi, Inc., later divided; the textile business became known as Loewi-Robertson and was directed by his daughter and son-in-law. Adolph Loewi probably acquired this painting on a trip to Europe in 1946. According to Mrs. Robertson, the stock number 10,144 indicates that the painting was acquired by Morandotti in Rome during the war. Works of art acquired in Venice before the war have stock numbers below 9300.
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