Family portrait by J.M. Quinckhard
Recommendation regarding the application for the restitution of Family Portrait by J.M. Quinkhard (NK 2079) from the Dutch National Art Collection
In a letter dated 20 December 2004, the State Secretary for Culture, Education and Science asked the Restitutions Committee to issue a recommendation regarding the application by C. L.-R. for the restitution of the painting Family Portrait by J.M. Quinkhard (NK 2079).
This request for advice is based on an application submitted to the State Secretary for Culture, Education and Science on 7 November 2004 by C. L.-R. (referred to below as ‘the Applicant’) for the restitution of the painting Family Portrait by J.M. Quinkhard (NK 2079) from the private collection of her great-aunt, Rosa Jacobson-Granaat. The restitution application came in response to a letter from the Origins Unknown Agency (referred to below as ‘BHG’) dated 28 October 2004 and addressed to various members of Rosa Jacobson-Granaat.’s family, requesting information about the Quinkhard painting. In this letter, the BHG informed the recipients of the painting’s inclusion in the Netherlands Art Property Collection and of the possibility to submit a restitution application to the State Secretary in the event that the painting was lost involuntarily.
In response to the restitution application presented to it, the Restitutions Committee instituted a fact-finding investigation, consisting primarily of archival research. In its letter dated 21 December 2004, the Committee also contacted the Applicant to explain the Committee’s procedure and ask her to provide additional information. As part of its fact-finding investigation, the Committee also contacted Mr A.D. F. and Mrs C. M.-G. The Committee also presented an art historical issue to Mr R.E.O. Ekkart, director of the Netherlands Institute for Art History.
The results of this investigation were laid down in a draft report dated 5 January 2006, which was submitted to the Applicant for comment. With the exception of one comment of a factual nature, the Applicant could agree with the facts as presented in the draft report.
For the facts serving as the basis of this recommendation, the Committee refers the reader to the report adopted on 6 March 2006, the contents of which are deemed to comprise an integral part of this recommendation.
a) The Committee has drawn up its opinion with due regard for the relevant (lines of) policy issued by the Ekkart Committee and the government.
b) The Committee asked itself whether it is acceptable that an opinion to be issued is influenced by its potential consequences for decisions in subsequent cases. The Committee resolved that such influence cannot be accepted, save in cases where special circumstances apply, since allowing such influence would be impossible to justify to the applicant concerned.
c) The Committee then asked itself how to deal with the circumstance that certain facts can no longer be ascertained, that certain information has been lost or has not been recovered, or that evidence can no longer be otherwise compiled. On this issue the Committee believes that, if the problems that have arisen can be attributed at least in part to the lapse of time, the associated risk should be borne by the government, save in cases where exceptional circumstances apply.
d) The Committee believes that insights and circumstances which, according to generally accepted views, have evidently changed since the Second World War should be granted the status of new facts.
e) Involuntary loss of possession is also understood to mean sale without the art dealer’s consent by ‘Verwalters’ [Nazi-appointed caretakers who took over management of firms owned by Jews] or other custodians not appointed by the owner of items from the old trading stock under their custodianship, in so far as the original owner or his heirs did not receive all the profits of the transaction, or in so far as the owner did not expressly waive his rights after the war.
The Applicant requests the restitution of the painting Family Portrait by J.M. Quinkhard in her capacity as heir to her great-aunt, Rosa Jacobson-Granaat. The Applicant stated to the Committee that her mother, D. R.-G., was designated as heir to Rosa Jacobson-Granaat but that, as D. R.G. passed away on 3 July 1972, she and her sister, W. V.-R., succeed their mother as heirs. With regard to this matter, the Committee took note of a statement by P.L. Dijk, civil-law notary in Amsterdam, from what is known as the JOKOS files – documenting claims presented to the Federal Republic of Germany after World War II regarding household contents looted during the war – which attests that on 7 March 1963 D. R.-G., the Applicant’s mother, and D.R. O’C., Rosa Jacobson-Granaat.’s adopted daughter, were to be considered heirs to Rosa Jacobson-Granaat’s estate. The Applicant stated during the proceedings that she was also acting on behalf of her sister, W. V.-R., but not on behalf of D.R. O’C. or her heirs.
The substantive background of the restitution application is as follows: Since its recovery from Germany by the Dutch authorities in 1947, the painting A Family Portrait by J.M. Quinkhard has been part of the Dutch National Art Collection. Registered under number NK 2079, the painting is on loan to the Arnhem Museum of Modern Art, where it is held in the museum’s depot. Prior to the war or in any event as from 1921, the Quinkhard painting was part of the Granaat family art collection. Rosa Jacobson-Granaat, who was born in Amsterdam on 19 May 1888 and died in Auschwitz on 6 September 1944, most likely inherited the painting in 1928. The most recent art historical source conclusively proving that Rosa Jacobson-Granaat owned the painting dates from 1932. Rosa Jacobson-Granaat was married to Semeon Jacobson and had one adopted daughter, D.R. J. During the first years of World War II, the couple, who possessed several valuable works of art, resided in Amsterdam on the Minervalaan. After going into hiding, they were arrested on a farm and, on 3 September 1944, transported from Westerbork to Auschwitz, where they were killed a few days later. During the war, the Jacobson-Granaat family possessions, including an unknown number of paintings, were acquired in number of ways by the occupying forces. For instance, the couple’s household effects were removed after their arrest, presumably by the Puls firm, and several works of art that the couple had placed in the custody of the Sauer firm in Amsterdam during the war were confiscated and moved to Germany. The couple also placed several works of art in the custody of private individuals during the war. After the war, the administrator of the couple’s estate and the Dutch rights restoration authorities maintained contact about the lost possessions, but – as far as is known – not specifically about the Quinkhard painting. A complete overview of the Jacobson-Granaat family lost works of art was unavailable after the war; the couple and many next of kin were no longer around to perform such an inventory.
Based on the above information, the Committee concludes that Rosa Jacobson-Granaat involuntarily lost her possessions, including an unknown number of works of art, during the war due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime. WhetherA Family Portrait by J.M. Quinkhard was among the works of art looted in the manner described above cannot be established with any certainty in 2006.
The investigation has demonstrated that during the war, in 1944, the painting was held by Dutch trader M. de Ridder, who sold it for NLG 25,000 in June of that year to German Ernst Göpel for the Führermuseum in Linz. What is known about M. de Ridder is that he regularly sold works of art to the Führermuseum during the war, although he was not recognised as a regular art dealer. As far as is known, he was not a member of a persecuted group. Given the distinct possibility that M. de Ridder acquired the painting by means of a clearing house for stolen works of art, auction or other intermediary, the Committee deems it unnecessary to further investigate his role in this matter. After all, the case focuses on the manner in which Rosa Jacobson-Granaat lost possession of the painting. It is worth noting that government policy, as recommended by the Ekkart Committee, gives priority to initial loss of possession, in this case, Rosa Jacobson-Granaat.’s loss of possession. As indicated earlier, there was no contact whatsoever between the heirs to Jacobson-Granaat’s estate and the Dutch authorities concerning the Quinkhard painting after the war. The Netherlands Art Property Foundation was aware that the painting was sold by M. de Ridder in 1944, by means of a sale characterised as ‘voluntary’, but conducted no further investigation into possible previous owners or the manner in which M. de Ridder acquired the painting during the war.
There are no archival documents that could prove that Rosa Jacobson-Granaat lost possession of the painting A Family Portrait by J.M. Quinkhard during the war. The Committee bases its view that it is likely that Rosa Jacobson-Granaat was the owner of the Quinkhard painting until the war on the following key issues: First, in response to a Committee request for additional information from the family, a niece/great-niece of Rosa Jacobson-Granaat, Ms B. M. of Jerusalem, made the following statement: 'Deze week zag ik de photocopy van het schilderij “Familieportret”. Ik kwam als jong meisje vaak bij mijn oom en tante Fam. Rosa en Abraham Jacobson. Ik meen mij tamelijk zeker te herinneren dat ik dit schilderij bij hen gezien heb, want ik vond het, als jong meisje, altijd zo mooi. Natuurlijk is dit al lang geleden (+/- 1938- +/- 1941) maar ik geloof dat mijn herinnering mij niet bedriegt.' [‘This week, I saw the photocopy of the painting ‘Family Portrait’. As a young girl, I often visited my uncle and aunt, Rosa . and Abraham Jacobson. I’m fairly certain that I saw this painting in their home. As a child, I admired the painting’s beauty. Of course, this was a long time ago (circa 1938 to circa 1941), but I’m certain my memory is not playing tricks on me.’] In addition, the Committee investigated whether there is any evidence indicating the painting’s possible sale before the war. This, however, could not be ascertained. The Committee further notes that the work of art is described in the art historical literature, thereby increasing the likelihood that evidence of its sale during the 1932-1944 period would have been found.
Based on the Jacobson-Granaat’s involuntary loss of possession of their art collection, as discussed in considerations 2 and 3 and given the likelihood that A Family Portrait by J.M. Quinkhard was part of this collection at the start of the war, the Committee considers the application for the restitution of NK 2079 to the heirs of Rosa Jacobson-Granaat allowable. This is not precluded by any previous handling of an application for the restoration of rights. In so far as necessary, the Committee refers to General Consideration c, on the basis of which the government bears the risk of loss of evidence resulting from the lapse of time.
The Restitutions Committee advises the State Secretary for Culture, Education and Science to return the painting Family Portrait by J.M. Quinkhard (NK 2079) to the heirs of Rosa Jacobson-Granaat.
Adopted in the meeting of 6 March 2006,
B.J. Asscher (chair)
P.J.N. van Os
E.J. van Straaten
H.M. Verrijn Stuart
I.C. van der Vlies