"PASCHAL LAMB" BY DE BEUCKELAER (NK 2646)
On 8 February 2002, the State secretary for OCenW asked the Restitutions Committee to issue advice on the decision pending on the application for the restitution of the painting "Paschal Lamb" by De Beuckelaer. In June 2001, the B. heirs had submitted such an application to the Ministry.
Summary of the documentary report
The painting "Paschal Lamb" by the 16th century Flemish painter De Beuckelaer was part of the Dutch national art collection, under inventory number NK 2646. The SNK recovered the work from Germany in 1946, under the assumption that it came from an Amsterdam art dealer who sold it voluntarily during the war. However, it was discovered fairly quickly (in 1950) that this assumption had been incorrect, but the identity of the owner was still a mystery. In 1999 BHG too concluded that the original owner of this painting (NK 2646) was unknown.
In the year 2000, the Austrian Kommission für Provenienzforschung, the equivalent of the Dutch Ekkart Committee, contacted the ICB with information indicating that "Paschal Lamb" was not of Dutch but instead of Austrian provenance. It appeared that up to 1938 the painting had been in the possession of the Austrian Jewish couple B. The investigation established the pre-war ownership of the painting by the couple, thanks to documents from Vienna and a slide of the painting that was in the possession of the family. It proved more difficult to establish how the painting was lost during the war. However, the events were reconstructed step by step, with the help of the B. family.
It turned out that during the course of 1939, just before the family had managed to escape from Austria and make their way to the United States, the painting had been smuggled out of the country. A Dutch friend of the family proved to have been very helpful here. The family's works of art, including "Paschal Lamb", were entrusted to an art dealer in Belgium, a service for which the couple apparently even paid a storage charge. Various documents were recovered showing that the Belgian art dealer sold the painting to the German Mühlmann at the end of 1941. In this way, the painting ended up in the Göring collection, from where it was seized by the Allies after the war. Based on the assumption (later shown to be false) that the painting had come from the Netherlands, it was sent to this country and thus ended up in the NK collection. The B. couple, who had by now taken up residence in the United States, were unaware of what had happened to the painting. Until recently, the painting hung in the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht.
In its advice, decided on in its meeting on 25 March 2002, the Restitutions Committee recommended the restitution of the painting to the B. heirs. The ownership of the painting by the B. couple had been proven and the loss of possession of the painting had to be deemed to be involuntary. In this respect, the committee referred to the recommendation by the Ekkart Committee that loss of possession in Austria from 1938 onwards should fall within the scope of the restitution policy. There could be no question of repayment of any sales proceeds, given the absence of any evidence that this had ever been received.
The State secretary for OCenW adopted this advice and ruled in favour of the restitution of the painting to the B. heirs.