A pastel drawing by Philippus Endlich
Recommendation regarding a pastel drawing by Philippus Endlich
On 11 January 2017 AA of BB and CC, also of BB (hereinafter referred to as the Applicants) requested the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (hereinafter referred to as the Minister) to restitute a pastel drawing by Philippus Endlich. The drawing is in the Rijksmuseum and is part of the Dutch National Art Collection. On 21 February 2017 the Minister asked the Restitutions Committee to advise about the restitution application.
Pursuant to article 2, paragraph 1, of the Decree Establishing the Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War, there is a Committee that is tasked with advising the Minister at the Minister’s request about decisions to be taken regarding applications for the restitution of items of cultural value whose original owner involuntarily lost possession due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime and which are:
a. part of the NK collection or
b. among the other holdings of the Dutch State.
Pursuant to paragraph 5, the Committee advises with regard to applications as referred to in paragraph 1, under b, on the basis of the yardsticks of reasonableness and fairness.
Pursuant to paragraph 6, when discharging its advisory task as referred to in the first paragraph, the Committee will give great weight to the circumstances of the acquisition by the owner and the possibility that there was knowledge about the suspect provenance at the time of the acquisition of the item of cultural value concerned.
In a letter dated 21 February 2017 the Minister asked the Committee for advice about the application of 11 January 2017 from the Applicants for restitution of the drawing.
The Committee conducted an investigation into the facts in response to the Minister’s request for advice. The results of the investigation are recorded in an overview of the facts dated 4 September 2017. The Applicants and the Minister were given the opportunity to respond to this overview of the facts. The Applicants responded in a letter dated 16 September 2017. The Minister responded in an email of 2 October 2017.
- The Committee established the relevant facts on the grounds of the overview of the facts of 4 September 2017 and the responses to it that the Committee received. The following summary is sufficient here.
- Applicant AA is a grandson of DD (born in 1881). Applicant CC is a granddaughter of EE (born in 1878). According to the Applicants the claimed drawing was originally the joint property of their grandfathers and was confiscated by German occupying forces during the Second World War.
The claimed work, a drawing in pastels on paper by Philippus Endlich, depicts a gentlemen sitting in a library beside a table with a violin on it. The drawing is dated 1747 and measures 440 mm x 394 mm. The drawing was acquired by the Rijksmuseum Print Room on 24 May 1944 at a sale in the Odeon building in Amsterdam. The work’s Rijksmuseum inventory number is RP-T-1944-247.
- The brothers EE and DD were bankers by profession and for a period were directors of the Amsterdamsche Bank N.V., which was founded in 1871 by, among other people, their father FF (1844-1924). According to the Applicants the currently claimed drawing was part of a large collection of family portraits in FF’s estate. A valuation report prepared on 14 December 1931 by the Bernhard Houthakker art gallery concerning ‘schilderijen en pastels van de familie […]’ [‘paintings and pastels of the […] family’] lists the drawing as ‘Portret van een heer in zijn bibliotheek. Pastel’ [‘Portrait of a gentleman in his library. Pastel’]. According to the Applicants, until May 1940 the drawing was is the residence of DD and his wife GG at Breitnerstraat in Amsterdam. This dwelling was confiscated by occupying forces immediately after the German invasion. At that moment DD was in New York, where he remained for the duration of the occupation. Initially his wife moved in with her married daughters. Later on she went into hiding, was betrayed, was arrested and was transported to Theresienstadt concentration camp via Westerbork transit camp. After the liberation she returned to Amsterdam.
- According to the Applicants, before GG left her home in Breitnerstraat she tried to safeguard valuables, including the collection of paintings, by putting the goods in a safe at the Amsterdamsche Bank N.V., and a smaller proportion with the haulier De Gruyter. It is stated on a declaration form of the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (SNK), which was signed by EE on 10 October 1945, that the family’s collection contained objets d’art, paintings (oil on canvas) and pastels, dated between 1680 and 1920, and that these works came into the possession of the German authorities as a result of confiscation. According to the declaration form, the artworks stored at the Amsterdamsche Bank were in the name of DD.
- On the grounds of regulation 58/1942, ‘betreffende de behandeling van joodsche vermogenswaarden’ [‘concerning the treatment of Jewish assets’], promulgated in May 1942 by the Reichs Commissioner for occupied Dutch territory, also called the second Liro regulation, Jews were compelled to surrender their valuable goods, including precious metals, antiques and works of art, to the robber bank Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co, Sarphatistraat (hereinafter referred to as Liro). Businesses that that might be holding Jewish possessions, for example furniture storage and removal companies, auction houses and banks, received instructions from occupying forces to supply an overview of such possessions. Goods owned by Jews had to be surrendered by the organizations or were seized at the organizations’ premises by the authorities.
- The Applicants state that the goods stored at the Amsterdamsche Bank and at De Gruyter were seized by the German authorities during the occupation. This is stated on an SNK declaration form signed by EE on 17 November 1945 concerning the currently claimed drawing. After this drawing had been seized at the Amsterdamsche Bank in Van Baerlestraat, it ended up at some point at the looting organization Liro. This emerges from a ‘Liro list’, a list of artworks surrendered to Liro and handed over to the SNK after the war, which was found in the SNK archive. This was probably done by the post-war administrator on the grounds of the information available at that time from the Liro records. This list contains twelve artworks that were surrendered from the possessions of ‘GG / Stadionkade / Amsterdam’. The maker of one of these twelve artworks is named as ‘Ph. Endlich’ for the depiction of ‘Man m/viool op tafel’ [‘Man with violin on a table’] with the date 7 June 1943. It is also stated that the drawing was sold to ‘[M.v.Waay]’, that the appraised value was NLG 25, and that the selling price was NLG 31.25.
A year later, on 24 May 1944, the drawing went under the hammer as lot number 873 at an art sale organized by Chr.J. Bolle & W. Dirkse in the Odeon building in Amsterdam. It is not known who put the drawing up for auction. It is known, however, that the Rijksmuseum Print Room acquired it for NLG 207.10. The drawing was consequently listed in the Rijksmuseum’s ‘Inventarisboek 1944’ [‘1944 Inventory Book’].
- DD was still in the United States after the war. EE contacted the SNK about the missing family property. On 10 October 1945 he sent a completed declaration form to the SNK and referred to a list that he had submitted to Dr A.B. de Vries, director of the SNK. This list, which was found in the SNK archive, refers to 28 portraits. Under the heading ‘Portretten ontvreemd door Lippmann Rosenthal & Co Sarphatistraat / eerst in safe Amsterdamsche Bank NV Bijkantoor Van Baerlestraat Amsterdam / behoord hebbende aan DD / Breitnerstraat Amsterdam Zuid’ [‘Portraits stolen by Lippmann Rosenthal & Co Sarphatistraat / initially in safe at Amsterdamsche Bank NV Van Baerlestraat branch Amsterdam / having belonged to DD / Breitnerstraat Amsterdam South’], the currently claimed drawing is number 19 on the list.
In response to his letter, the SNK requested EE to complete a declaration form for each work. A form signed on 17 November 1945 related to a drawing by the artist P. Endlich of a ‘heer in bibliotheek met viool’ [‘gentleman in library with violin’]. According to the form the drawing was approximately 40 cm high and 30 cm wide and was dated ‘1747’. The provenance of the missing artwork was stated as ‘familiebezit’ [‘family property’]. As regards ownership, it was stated that the artwork was originally the ‘gemeenschappelijk’ [‘joint’] property of ‘EE, Apollolaan, A’dam [Amsterdam]’ and ‘DD, thans te New York [currently in New York]’. According to the form the drawing came into the possession of the‘Duitsche autoriteiten’ [‘German authorities’] as a result of confiscation. As far as the circumstances of the loss of possession are concerned, EE wrote ‘gerequireerd uit safe Amsterdamsche Bank A’dam’ [‘requisitioned from safe Amsterdamsche Bank Amsterdam’] on the form. This declaration did not result in restitution of the currently claimed drawing however.
- Afterwards EE continued to correspond with the SNK, the Office for Reparation Payments and Restoration of Property (Bureau Hergo), which took over the SNK’s tasks, and the Netherlands Property Administration Institute in his attempts to get back the missing artworks. He also approached the Amsterdam auctioneers Mak van Waay in connection with works from the former […] family property purchased by this auction house from Liro. The Applicants sent the Committee a 1949 agreement (‘Acte van dading’ [‘Instrument of Compromise’]) between EE, DD and GG (designated as ‘owner’) on the one hand and N.V. Maatschappij voor kunst- en antiekveilingen (Mak van Waay), designated as ‘purchaser’. The agreement concerned five artworks that the purchaser had bought from Liro in 1943, including the currently claimed drawing. These five works had been valued in 1931 by the Bernard Houthakker gallery (see also consideration 3) at a total of NLG 1,525, and the currently claimed drawing had been valued at NLG 250. The agreement stipulated that the purchaser would pay the owner the aforementioned sum of NLG 1,525 and that the owner would transfer to the purchaser the full ownership of all rights and claims that he might have against the liquidators of Liro or third parties in connection with the sale by Liro in 1943. The agreement furthermore stipulated, however, that as a result of this agreement the owner would not lose the ownership rights or the right of recovery of the five works in so far as the owner still might have had these rights at that moment. If the owner were to regain possession of one or more of the works, he was obliged to restitute to the purchaser the amount paid by the purchaser in regard to those works.
- If Liro sold valuable objects from Jewish owners, initially the proceeds were booked by the organization in a named account. From 1 January 1943 all amounts were booked in a summary account known as the Sammelkonto. The post-war administrators of Liro were faced with the task of unravelling this summary account and tracing the sums back to individuals. It emerged from the investigation that after the war GG disputed the magnitude of the compensation awarded in a lawsuit brought before the Judicial Division of the Council for the Restoration of Rights. However, it is no longer possible to ascertain exactly how much was paid and to what extent this concerns the currently claimed drawing.
- According to the Applicants, between 1945 and today efforts to retrieve the objects have only been made through declarations to the SNK. In December 2016 the Origins Unknown Agency (Bureau Herkomst Gezocht) published information from the ‘Vermiste Werken’ [‘Missing Works’] project on its website. This project’s objective is to digitize and give access to information about missing works of art and, where possible, to identify them. Some 15,000 declaration forms and the associated image material from the files of the SNK and the RKD - Netherlands Institute for Art History form the basis for this project. One of the published declaration forms was the form signed by EE on 17 November 1945, as referred to in consideration 6. After the publication of this form the Applicants identified the drawing reported on it as the currently claimed drawing and they requested the Minister to restitute it.
Assessment of the claim
- Applicant AA claims to be an heir of DD. Applicant CC claims to be an heir of EE. The Committee has taken note of the inheritance-law-related documents submitted by the Applicants and on the grounds of them the Committee sees no reason to doubt the Applicants’ status as heirs of EE or DD.
- The agreement with Mak van Waay referred to in consideration 8 gives rise to the question of whether EE and DD through this agreement expressly waived their rights to the currently claimed drawing, which could stand in the way of the admissibility of the present restitution application. The Committee answers this question in the negative because the owner’s property rights and the right of recovery with regard to, among other things, the currently claimed drawing were not lost as a result of the agreement.
- On the grounds of the facts referred to in considerations 3 to 7 is it sufficiently plausible that the currently claimed drawing was surrendered to Liro in 1943 as a result of the second Liro regulation and that at that moment it was the joint property of EE and DD. In this way they lost possession of the drawing involuntarily as a result of the Nazi regime. The Minister has stated that the drawing is of moderate importance to the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch National Art Collection and the cultural heritage of the Netherlands. The Committee finds that this limited importance is outweighed by the interest of the Applicants with regard to restitution. The Committee will therefore advise the Minister to restitute the drawing to the heirs of EE and DD.
- The Committee sees no reason to link handing over the drawing to something in return from the Applicants. In this regard it notes that the State acquired the drawing in 1944 for a modest sum. The content of the agreement concluded in 1949 referred to in consideration 8 similarly gives no reason for such a link to something in return.
The Restitutions Committee advises the Minister of Education, Culture and Science to restitute the drawing by Philippus Endlich (Rijksmuseum inventory number RP-T-1944-247) to the heirs of EE and DD.
Adopted at the meeting of 13 November 2017 by A. Hammerstein (Chair), J.H.W. Koster, P.J.N. van Os, H.M. Verrijn Stuart, G.N. Verschoor and I.C. van der Vlies (Vice-Chair) and signed by the Chair and the Secretary.
(A. Hammerstein, Chair) (M.C.J. Kooij, Secretary)