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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Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

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Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Paulus Potterstraat 13 1071 CX Amsterdam www.stedelijkmuseum.nl

Investigation results

This museum has 15 objects with a potentially problematic provenance.

Result of this investigation

The museum carried out a thorough investigation into the provenance of its art holdings acquired since 1933 and created before 1945. Investigators began by selecting items that required investigation: 3,846 artworks were checked. Items of which the date of manufacture is not known were also included. Investigators began by checking the registration system and old inventory cards as well as annual reports. Museum archives (including those of the collection registration and documentation and investigation departments) provided key information, as did the exhibition dossiers. Investigators also checked actual exhibits for labels, or inscriptions of names and numbers. Publications such as oeuvre, auction and exhibition catalogues were also checked. Investigators examined archives at Amsterdam municipal archive, RKD, auction houses and art galleries. In some cases, German and French archives were checked.

Stedelijk Museum was the only museum in Holland with a bunker to store its collection in time of war. Known as the Safe, it was located in the dunes of Castricum. When the Second World War began, Stedelijk was a sub-department of Amsterdam’s municipal museum department; the department included Amsterdam Historical Museum, Museum Fodor and Museum Willet-Holthuysen. Other museums and collectors also sought to store items in Stedelijk’s depository; indeed, Stedelijk offered shelter to 180 collections, including Rijksmuseum (Rembrandt’s Night Watch was stored there), Boijmans van Beuningen and Noordeinde and Soestdijk palaces. The lists were handwritten and many are incomplete; some of the owners are not mentioned, or indicated by an initial. To avoid detection and confiscation, curator Willem Sandberg (later director) had the labels and accompanying documents of items owned by Jewish collectors destroyed or hidden in a policy known as camouflaged safekeeping.

Items that may have problematic provenance include:

  • Gerard Jan Bos’s Old Veteran, which is of unknown origin. It was listed in April 1945 as in ‘safekeeping’.
  • Wassily Kandinsky’s Watercolour No. 2 was discovered in 1954 in Mr de Vries’s iron cupboard depot. How the watercolour came to the museum is unclear.
  • Paul Klee’s Massengebet was given to the museum by an anonymous person in 1958. It had been owned by Otto Ralfs, who had deposited with Firma Walter Blank during the war. In January 1945, the storage facility was plundered by the soldiers of the Soviet Red Army. It is unclear how it came into the possession of the person who sold it to the anonymous donor in the 1950s.
  • Henri Matisse’s Odalisque was purchased from L. Bangma of Santpoort in 1941. A previous owner was Albert Stern. The Bangma family sheltered Albert Stern’s granddaughter during the war. According to the inventory card,
  • Henri Matisse’s Standing Nude was given by an anonymous donor in 1940 - it may have been intended as camouflaged safekeeping, rather than a gift.
  • The museum bought Jacob Maris’s portrait of Artist G.J. Hoffmann in 1943 at Jacob Muller & Co art gallery in The Hague. Although the art gallery’s header on the invoice suggests that this was the seller, investigators have found no reference to the art gallery in archives or contemporary newspapers.
  • Pieter de Regt’s Wild Sorrel on the Bank was recorded on its inventory card as ‘Left during the war in S.M. (Gift?)’.
  • Petrus Schiedges’s Oxen Ploughing first appears on an inventory card in 1943. Apart from Amsterdam municipality being mentioned as owner, no other information is given. This may have been a camouflaged form of safekeeping.
  • Jan Toorop’s Work at the Candle Factory in Gouda comprises six drawings from a series of twelve bought in 1940 at a Frederik Muller auction in Amsterdam and originally from Jacques Goudstikker’s collection. The other six drawings were acquired by Gemeentemuseum, The Hague.
  • Wassily Kandinsky’s Painting with Houses, was sold at an Frederik Muller auction in Amsterdam in 1940, from the estate of a Jewish owner. On October 22nd 2018 the Restitutions Committee has issued a binding opinion about the application for restitution of this painting  by Wassily Kandinsky, currently in the possession of Amsterdam City Council. The Committee takes the view that the City Council is not obliged to restitute the work. Read more: http://www.restitutiecommissie.nl/en/recommendations/recommendation_rc_3141.html

Update 2018

A painting acquired in 1943 with a potentially troublesome gap in its provenance was included in the Stedelijk 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 May 2018.

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

View reaction of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 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

Originally opened in 1895, Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum is home to a collection of modern and contemporary art that includes around 90,000 items in a wide range of mediums. The museum boasts one of the leading collections of modern and contemporary art and design, featuring work by artists such as Mondrian, Malevich, De Kooning, Matisse, Dijkstra, Rietveld and Warhol.

Objects

Old Veteran

Old Veteran

Artist/ Creator
Gerard Jan Bos
Title
Old Veteran
Year
1899
Technique
Oil on canvas
Size
153 x 117 cm
Inventorynumber
A 38196
Category
Paintings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

Who the owner of this painting was before it arrived at the museum during the Second World War is no longer known.

Explanation

This painting...

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Bild mit Häusern

Painting with Houses

Artist/ Creator
Wassily Kandinsky
Title
Painting with Houses
Year
1909
Technique
Oil on canvas
Size
98 x 133 cm
Inventorynumber
A 1740
Category
Paintings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

This painting from the estate of a Jewish collector was auctioned at a Frederik Muller sale in Amsterdam in 1940.

Explanation

Stedelijk Museum...

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Massengebet

Massengebet

Artist/ Creator
Paul Klee
Title
Massengebet
Year
1913
Technique
Ink on paper
Size
105 x 237 mm
Inventorynumber
A 8453
Description

Sheetsize 254 x 323 mm, drawing size 105 x 237 mm

Category
Drawings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

This drawing was part of the collection that Otto Ralfs stored at Firma Walter Blank during the war. In January 1945 the place was plundered by the Soviet Red...

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Odalisque

Odalisque

Artist/ Creator
Henri Matisse
Title
Odalisque
Year
s.d. [1921]
Technique
Paint on canvas
Size
61,4 x 74,4 cm
Inventorynumber
A 795
Category
Paintings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

Albert Stern gave this painting to the museum for safekeeping either just before or at the start of the war together with two other paintings. In October 1940, the...

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Watercolour No. 2

Watercolour No. 2

Artist/ Creator
Wassily Kandinsky
Title
Watercolour No. 2
Year
1911
Technique
Paper, watercolour, gouache, pencil
Size
316 x 476 mm
Inventorynumber
A 4029
Category
Drawings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

How and when this work came to the museum between 1923 and 1954 is no longer known.

Explanation

The inventory card states that the watercolour...

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Pouring Room

Pouring Room

Artist/ Creator
Jan Toorop
Title
Pouring Room
Year
1905
Technique
Paper, pastel
Size
530 x 460 mm
Inventorynumber
A 1989
Category
Drawings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

These drawings were part of the prewar collection of Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.

Explanation

These six drawings are part of a series...

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Pasting the Cylinders

Pasting the Cylinders

Artist/ Creator
Jan Toorop
Title
Pasting the Cylinders
Year
1905
Technique
Paper, pastel
Size
470 x 560 mm
Inventorynumber
A 1987
Category
Drawings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

These drawings were part of the prewar collection of Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.

Explanation

These six drawings are part of a series...

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Tea Lights

Tea Lights

Artist/ Creator
Jan Toorop
Title
Tea Lights
Year
1905
Technique
Paper, pastel
Size
460 x 530 mm
Inventorynumber
A 1986
Category
Drawings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

These drawings were part of the prewar collection of Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.

Explanation

These six drawings are part of a series...

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Finishing the Wicks

Finishing the Wicks

Artist/ Creator
Jan Toorop
Title
Finishing the Wicks
Year
1905
Technique
Paper, pastel
Size
470 x 560 mm
Inventorynumber
A 1990
Category
Drawings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

These drawings were part of the prewar collection of Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.

Explanation

These six drawings are part of a series...

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Setting the Moulds

Setting the Moulds

Artist/ Creator
Jan Toorop
Title
Setting the Moulds
Year
1905
Technique
Paper, pastel, conté
Size
550 x 460 mm
Inventorynumber
A 1991
Category
Drawings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

These drawings were part of the prewar collection of Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.

Explanation

These six drawings are part of a series...

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The Stockroom

The Stockroom

Artist/ Creator
Jan Toorop
Title
The Stockroom
Year
1905
Technique
Paper, pastel, conté
Size
560 x 470 mm
Inventorynumber
A 1988
Category
Drawings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

These drawings were part of the prewar collection of Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.

Explanation

These six drawings are part of a series...

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Standing Nude

Standing Nude

Artist/ Creator
Henri Matisse
Title
Standing Nude
Year
c. 1900
Technique
Black chalk on paper
Size
Beeldmaat 270 x 201 mm
Inventorynumber
A 1815
Category
Drawings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

This drawing was given to the museum anonymously in 1940, possibly not as a gift but in a camouflaged form of safekeeping.

Explanation

The...

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The Artist G.J. Hoffmann

The artist G.J. Hoffmann

Artist/ Creator
Jacob Maris
Title
The artist G.J. Hoffmann
Year
1856
Technique
Oil on panel
Size
27 x 19 cm
Inventorynumber
A 896
Category
Paintings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

When and from whom Jacob Muller & Co acquired this painting by Maris is no longer known.

Explanation

Jacob Muller & Co of The Hague...

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Wild Sorrel on the Bank

Wild Sorrel on the Bank

Artist/ Creator
Pieter de Regt
Title
Wild Sorrel on the Bank
Year
s.d.
Technique
Oil on panel
Size
32 x 54 cm
Inventorynumber
A 2129
Category
Paintings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

When and how this painting was acquired by the museum is no longer known.

Explanation

Question marks are written beside the options loan,...

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Oxen Ploughing

Oxen Ploughing

Artist/ Creator
Petrus Paulus Schiedges
Title
Oxen Ploughing
Year
1916
Technique
Oil on canvas
Size
110 x 160 cm
Inventorynumber
A 888
Category
Paintings
Museum
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Investigation results

Conclusion

When and how this painting came into the possession of the museum is no longer known; it may have been a camouflaged form of safekeeping rather than a...

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