By: Anne Donato, Ph.D, Education Specialist –
There is an old saying…one man’s findings are another man’s treasure. And as I looked from my desk out into our library archives, I saw a beautiful piece of gold. Hanging on our wall. Looking at me with dark eyes and a simple smile. It was a pencil drawing, a beautiful sketch of Anne Frank…the same Anne Frank that I was creating a workshop for during the summer of 2020. I found the picture poignant, thought-provoking. I felt it would make a reflective opening and closing to the presentation I was creating.
As I approached the framed portrait, I noticed a signature in the bottom right corner – Roser Bru – as well as a number in the bottom left corner, like a fraction – 40/99. Interesting, I thought. Numbered art. With an apparent title – Anne Frank – under her portrait, as well as 10 Octobre, 1940, and Mar 1 +, 1945 Bergen-Belsen under the frame next to it – black and Xd out. I came back to this print often, wondering where it came from, and who may have been the artist who rendered such an evocative work.
Feiga Weiss and Judy Rosenzveig, Holocaust Memorial Center’s senior archivists and librarians, were the first to help me. Ms. Weiss shared with me that it had been donated to us by a local resident in 2008 who felt that it would be appropriate to have it added to our permanent collections here at the Holocaust Memorial Center. Home it came to us, nestled amongst our vast array of historical artifacts and writings, waiting for its own day of illumination, much like Anne’s writing themselves.
And this day came on October 29, 2020.
Because they are a valued educational partner, I reached out to colleagues of the educational team at the Detroit Institute of Arts. I approached Sue Troia and Jason Gillespie with my inquiry regarding the Anne Frank print. In turn, they shared my musings with their Curation Department. There, Dr. Clare Rogan, Curator of Prints and Drawings, took the time to thoughtfully review the print, and shared with me the findings of her investigation. The following was her insightful response:
Thanks for contacting the DIA about the image of Anne Frank. Good news! It is a lithograph (fine art print) by the artist Roser Bru (Chilean, born in Spain, born 1923).
Roser Bru Llop (born 15 February 1923) is a Spanish-born Chilean painter and engraver associated with the neo-figurative art movement. The Galerie Hus, Paris, has an impression of this print on their website.
It was published in an edition of 99. It was printed and published in 1979 in Barcelona by Poligrafa, an internationally well-known print publisher.
It is a striking piece. I’m delighted that you have it in the Holocaust Museum. If you have any questions, just let me know.
With all best wishes,
Curator of Prints and Drawings
Dept. of Prints, Drawings and Photographs
Detroit Institute of Arts
I was elated… that the Holocaust Memorial Center had acquired this piece from a valued member of our community over a decade ago. I was elated…that Roser Bru’s art work was being displayed at an institution that honors Holocaust history, beautiful art, precious life. I was elated…that this piece had found its way to a new home.
Our hidden treasure now found.
The Anne Frank lithograph is currently on display in the Library of the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus.