The Netherlands will return 13 paintings in national museums to the heirs of Jewish collectors persecuted by the Nazis, the Culture Ministry said.
Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk said he would follow a recommendation by the Restitutions Committee to hand back 12 paintings, including Jan van Goyen’s “Village in Winter Time,” to the heirs of Hans Ludwig Larsen. The government also will return Thomas de Keyser’s “Portrait of a Man,” currently housed in a museum in Gouda, to the heirs of a Jewish collector named Richard Semmel, Plasterk said.
Larsen’s loss of the paintings was “due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime,” the Restitutions Committee said. Semmel probably sold his picture to fund his escape, it said.
During the five-year Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, thousands of artworks were looted. Many were returned to the Dutch government by the Allies after the war and remained in the national collection. The Restitutions Committee was founded by the government to handle claims for art in state hands. Since its foundation in 2002, the panel has dealt with 75 such cases.
After Larsen’s death in 1937, his widow and two children fled to the U.S. shortly before the outbreak of World War II. A museum in Leiden took the paintings into custody before a Nazi- appointed official sold them to buyers, including one of Adolf Hitler’s art purchasers. (Bloomberg)
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