"1999. Three years after my mother’s death, I receive a phone call from a stranger. The man works at the Beaubourg museum and is in charge of its collections. He tells me about a painting, stolen from my grand-parents by the Nazis, and announces that he will return it to me. I immediately get goose pimples. The painting, he says, is La plage de Trouville, by Jacques Mauny. I tell him I have two other paintings by Mauny.
It is as if History has caught up with me. I feel utterly confused. This man has suggested that I go through family papers, trying to find trace of this third work. I cannot really turn my back on this, yet the timing is really bad. This past is a burden. I resent it. After my mother’s death, I had decided to forget.
We decide to meet, and exchange contact details. La plage de Trouville was apparently spotted at my grand-father’s house in 1930. The Germans took it in 1942. And, so this man says, it is up to me to prove that this painting belonged to my family till that date. I am speechless. All the witnesses are dead. There are no photographs. Everything from that time has disappeared.
Things have been turned up-side-down. I am now in the position of the applicant who has to keep pestering the state till she gets back what belongs to her." Carole Achache
Carole Achache has been a stills photographer, working for famous filmmakers such as Sautet, Losey and Tavernier. Following L’Indienne de Cortès (Robert Laffont, 2002), La Plage de Trouville is her second novel. She has also published two books of photographs: Chantier en cours and Des fleurs (Thierry Magnier, 2004 and 2006).
Nous prenons rendez-vous et échangeons nos informations. La Plage de Trouville a été repéré chez mon grand-père en 1930. Les Allemands l’ont pris en 1942. Et c’est à moi, me dit l’homme, d’apporter la preuve de l’appartenance de ce tableau à ma famille jusqu’à la seconde date. Je reste sans voix. Tous les témoins sont morts. Aucune photo. Tout a disparu de cette époque.
La situation vient de se renverser. Je suis devenue une requérante qui va harceler l’État français pour récupérer ce bien. » Carole Achache