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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Frans Hals Museum

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Frans Hals Museum

Groot Heiligland 62 2011 ES Haarlem

Investigation results

None of the objects in this museum have problematic provenance.

Result of this investigation

Although the museum reports that it has found no objects with problematic provenance, the provenance of a painting of a young boy by Cornelis van Haarlem remains uncertain. A work of this description appears in the list of Liro Bank objects but since Cornelis van Haarlem’s oeuvre contains several similar works and the description in the Liro list is brief and without dimensions, it is unclear which painting this refers to. The investigators did come across another case of stolen art. This is a painting taken from a private collection in Vienna and earmarked for the planned Führer Museum in Linz. In fact, it had been restored to the original owner after the war who then sold it. The museum bought it in 1965.
Having examined the registration system and the collection catalogue, 42 works were earmarked for further investigation at RKD (The Netherlands Institute for Art History). New information prompted additional inquiries regarding various paintings in the National Archive records. Although no evidence of problematic provenance was found, the provenance of some paintings remains uncertain so that it is not possible to discount the possibility of problematic provenance entirely.
In the course of the investigation, the museum received a claim for restitution from the heirs of Richard Semmel. The Restitution Committee issued a binding recommendation explaining that insufficient evidence existed to identify the work in question as being from Semmel’s collection.

About this museum and its collection

The museum collection focuses on fine and applied art, with a selection of old master paintings of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Haarlem, the highlight of which is formed by eight group portraits by Frans Hals of civic guardsmen and governors.