Van AbbemuseumBilderdijklaan 10 5611 NH Eindhoven www.vanabbemuseum.nl
This museum has 2 objects with a potentially problematic provenance.
Result of this investigation
The museum reports that after setting aside all postwar works and those bought directly from the artist or the artist’s family, 77 items remained to be investigated further. Investigators checked the museum’s collection archive, including old inventory cards, restoration reports and correspondence regarding purchases, in addition to the RKD pictorial database. In some cases they decided to investigate further, examining external archives (RKD, National Archive, NIOD and in one case, archives abroad) and publications (biographies, oeuvre catalogues and exhibition catalogues). The museum reports that some artworks have incomplete provenance.
In some cases the investigation produced greater clarity regarding the history of the object. A painting by Kokoschka turned out to have been acquired by Staatliche Gemäldegalerie in Dresden in 1920. It was labelled entartete, and the museum was required to deaccession the work in 1937. This painting was eventually sold together with many other prohibited works in Lucerne in 1939. Van Abbe Museum acquired it after the war.
Two paintings by Georg Hering and Ferenz von Bölcskey drew particular attention since they had been donated in 1939 by their owners, named Wolf and Waterman, who left Eindhoven that year for Wassenaar and Australia respectively. These appear to have been regular gifts, presumably made without any duress three years after the museum’s foundation at a time when many leading figures in Eindhoven were donating to the institution. In one case, evidence points to possibly problematic provenance:
- El Lissitzky’s Proun P23, no. 6, which once belonged to Bildungsinstitut Hellerau. It is unclear who owned the work when Alois Schardt took it to the United States.
- The museum bought Wassily Kandinsky’s Blick auf Murnau mit Kirche in 1951 at Légat art gallery in The Hague. It had previously been owned by 'A. Kaufmann'. Given the close connection between Légat and Kajetan Mühlmann, the Jewish name ‘Kaufmann’ and the work’s entartete character, this seems to be a potentially problematic work. In January 2018 the Restitutions Committee has issued a binding opinion about the application for restitution of this painting. Wassily Kandinsky, currently in the possession of Eindhoven City Council. The Committee takes the view that the Eindhoven City Council, the current owner, is not obliged to restitute the work. Read more: http://www.restitutiecommissie.nl/en/recommendations/recommendation_rc_3162.html
Investigators also note that while Edy de Wilde was director of the museum, fifty paintings were acquired on loan from SNK. Three were later returned to their owners. The rest were given back to the government department in 1965 and 1971 and are no longer part of the museum collection.
About this museum and its collection
Van Abbe Museum was founded in 1936 by cigar manufacturer Henri van Abbe and boasts a major collection of modern and contemporary art, including painting, sculpture and video art of the twentieth and twenty-first century.
Blick auf Murnau mit Kirche
- Artist/ Creator
- Wassily Kandinsky
- Blick auf Murnau mit Kirche
- Oil on canvas
- 110,6 x 120 cm
- Van Abbemuseum
When and from whom Légat art gallery acquired this painting is no longer known. Who the former owner ‘A. Kaufmann’ was and how the painting was lost...
Proun P23, no. 6
- Artist/ Creator
- El Lissitzky
- Proun P23, no. 6
- Tempera on canvas
- 65,9 x 80,9 cm
- TMS 2311
- Van Abbemuseum
The identity of the owner of this work when it was sold in the United States is no longer known, as is the way it came to be in the Bildingsinstitut Hellerau...