I am an art history geek. I know this and quite frankly, I’m proud of it. My husband likes to play a little game whenever I drag him to an art museum. He tries to find the most obscure little painting he can find and see if I can identify it. Currently, after about 25 years of doing this, I’m at 100%.
I must confess, I am an art teacher. But I am also a writer, so it was little wonder that I was going to put the two together eventually.
For many years I have been fascinated with what happened at The Louvre during WWII. Everyone who knows me also knows that I have an unusual attraction to WWII, but this story is particularly interesting. Expecting war and the possible bombing of Paris, Jacques Jaujard, director of the Musees Nationaux, which included the Louvre, and the French government decided to evacuate the Louvre, that is, to remove all of the treasures and move them out of Paris. Virtually every picture and sculpture and trinket on display were packed and taken to French country estates for the duration of the war. There was 11 months of planning, but the actual packing up was done in three days. The Louvre was emptied on August 28. Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 and WWII officially began. As chronicled in The Monuments Men, Hitler was stealing the greatest artwork in Europe, planning to open his Fuhrermuseum in Linz, Austria. When the Nazis got to the Louvre, all they found was an empty shell, a few frames and the names of the the artwork that hung there on the walls. After the war, every piece of art was returned to the Louvre.
I love this story. Another story has been tucked away in my head for several years and I just published it. The book is Hiding Mona Lisa and it takes place in Paris during the evacuation of the Louvre. The male main character is a handsome art curator with a questionable past, the female lead is a minor league art thief who is challenged to steal the Mona Lisa. Add to the mix a Nazi officer with a gift for forgery and you have the basis for the novel. I describe it as part mystery, part romance, part historical truth and part fiction, but its mostly fiction, although the timeline is correct. As I did in Terezin Twilight with Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, I added a fictionalized version of a real person, and that is Jacques Jaujard. I couldn’t figure out how to write the story without including him, so based on everything I read during my research I created a very admirable fictionalized Jacques.
Interested? You can find it at https:// http://www.booksbylynnmurphy.com or at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T5HSU6U