Investigation into the provenance of museum collections in connection with the theft, confiscation and sale of objects under duress between 1933 and 1945.

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Centraal Museum

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Centraal Museum

Nicolaaskerkhof 10 3512 XC Utrecht www.centraalmuseum.nl

Investigation results

This museum has 2 objects with a potentially problematic provenance.

Result of this investigation

The museum reports that its collection contains two paintings with potentially problematic provenance. Staff came to this conclusion after an extensive investigation which began by excluding objects such as archaeological finds, acquisitions before 1933 and items acquired direct from the artist.

After separating items that were not relevant, the first phase of the investigation involved consulting the collection registration system, catalogues, inventories, annual reports and secondary references (e.g. auction catalogues) and digital databases. This left 58 items to be further checked. None of these had been of immediate questionable provenance, however their previous provenance did raise doubts. Subsequent investigation involved checking various archives, auction and exhibition catalogues, information from overseas researchers and auction houses and checking various art-historical sources.

Further investigation provided the missing links in the provenance of several items. For example, a plaque was shown to have been stolen from a Jewish owner during the war. This had been restored to her after the war and then subsequently auctioned. Regarding one painting, Madonna with Wild Roses by Jan van Scorel, the Restitution Committee made a binding recommendation during the course of the investigation. This followed a claim for restitution by the heir of the Jewish collector Richard Semmel. The painting was not awarded to the claimants.

While the provenance of other objects was not determined conclusively, investigators found no indications that the works had been stolen or sold under duress. 

Following the investigation, two items remain the subject of unresolved doubts. These are:

  • Aert Jansz. Marienhof’s Annunciation to the Shepherds, bought in 1952 from Hertha Zimmerman of Berlin. In 1936, auctioned by Mandelbaum and Kronthal (submitted by K.R.), later R. Thiele of Berlin. Das Internationale Kunst- und Auktionshaus had been taken over by a non-Jewish owner in 1935 and continued as Mandelbaum & Kronthal. The identity of K.R. is not known.
  • Jan Baptist Weenix’s Portrait of the Wijkersloot Family, bought in 1979 from Leger Galleries. In 1938, the painting had been at Miethke art gallery in Vienna, without prior provenance. This gallery had been directed since 1907 by Jewish art historian Hugo Haberfeld. In 1938, he and his family moved to Paris, after which no trace of them exists.

Update 2016

A painting acquired in 1999 with potentially troublesome gaps in its provenance was included in the Centraal Museum's initial results.  Meanwhile, information has been obtained which, while not leading to a conclusive provenance, nevertheless allays the previously voiced concern such that there is no longer any reason to list this painting as having a suspicious history on the website. Accordingly, it was removed from this category in December 2016.

Information from previous research (report Museum Acquisitions 1940-1948)

View reaction of Centraal Museum in the report Museale acquisitions 1940-1948 which was published in 1999 in response to the previous museum research.

About this museum and its collection

The museum possesses a varied collection of old, modern and applied art as well as fashion and urban history. Central Museum also has an extensive collection of Rietveld designs and a permanent exhibition of work by Dick Bruna.

Objects

The Annunciation to the Shepherds

The Annunciation to the Shepherds

Artist/ Creator
Aert Jansz Mariënhof
Title
The Annunciation to the Shepherds
Year
c. 1650
Technique
Oil on panel
Size
55,2 x 72 cm
Inventorynumber
11054
Category
Paintings
Museum
Centraal Museum

Investigation results

Conclusion

It is unclear who consigned this painting for sale at Mandelbaum & Kronthal auction in Berlin; only the initials KR...

more information

Portrait of the Van Wijkersloot Family

Portrait of the Van Wijkersloot Family

Artist/ Creator
Jan Baptist Weenix (follower)
Title
Portrait of the Van Wijkersloot Family
Year
c. 1650-1660
Technique
Oil on canvas
Size
97,8 x 136,3 cm
Inventorynumber
21649
Category
Paintings
Museum
Centraal Museum

Investigation results

Conclusion

It is not known when or from whom Kunsthandel Miethke acquired this painting and how it came to be part of the museum...

more information