The Hague, 9 November 2023 – The Restitutions Committee has advised the State Secretary for Culture and Media to restitute the painting God Appearing to Abraham at Sichem by Nicolaes (Claes) Moeyaert to Herman Hamburger’s heir. The painting is currently in the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht and is part of the Dutch State’s Netherlands Art Property (NK) Collection.
The Committee concluded on the grounds of the investigation conducted by the Restitution Expert Centre (ECR) that it is highly likely that the painting had been part of the private collection of the Jewish art dealer and collector Herman Hamburger since 1936. It also became sufficiently plausible that Hamburger lost possession of the painting as a result of circumstances directly connected with the Nazi regime.
Classified as enemy assets during the occupation
Herman Hamburger remained in France during the occupation. In 1940 the German authorities declared his goods present in the Netherlands to be ‘enemy assets’. The work remained in the home of Siegfried Granaat in Amsterdam. It emerged from an inventory prepared by the German authorities, among other things, which of the artworks on the premises belonged to Herman Hamburger. The painting by Moeyaert was on that list.
In 1941, the Mühlmann Agency, a German looting organization, got hold of the painting by means of a forced sale. The Mühlmann Agency sold the painting on to the Special Mission Linz (Sonderauftrag Linz), the looting organization that made acquisitions for Hitler’s future Führer Museum in Linz in Austria. The painting was returned to the Netherlands in 1957 and taken into the NK Collection.
During the application of post-war restoration of rights procedures, a debate arose about who owned the painting. Based on documentation dating from the nineteen-thirties and -forties, the Committee concluded that it is highly likely that the artwork came from the private collection of Herman Hamburger.
The State Secretary for Culture and Media has adopted the advice and the Dutch State will restitute the painting to Herman Hamburger’s heir.
Relevant recommendation: Herman Hamburger
Related recommendations: Jacobson-Granaat II and Hamburger III