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Restitutions Committee advice concerning an etching by Graadt van Roggen from the Netherlands Art Property Collection (NK 3537)

Landscape with river and windmills by J.M. Graadt van Roggen  

Report number: RC 1.25

Advice type: NK collection

Advice date: 27 June 2005

Period of loss of ownership: 1940-1945

Original owner: Private individual

Location of loss of ownership: The Netherlands

NK 3537 – Landscape with river and windmills by J.M. Graadt van Roggen (photo: RCE)

  • NK 3537 - Landscape with river and windmills by J.M. Graadt van Roggen (photo: RCE)


In a letter dated 23 December 2004, the State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science asked the Restitutions Committee for advice on the decision to be taken concerning the application made on 24 September 2004 by Ms A. K.-M. (referred to below as the applicant) for restitution of the etching Landscape with river and windmills by J.M. Graadt van Roggen (NK 3537) from the Dutch National Art Collection.

The procedure

On 24 September 2004, the applicant submitted to the State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science an application for restitution of the etching Landscape with river and windmills, which is in the storage facility of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (ICN) as part of the Dutch National Art Collection. The reason for this application for restitution was a letter, dated 2 July 2004, from the Origins Unknown Agency (referred to below as BHG) to various members of the M. family requesting information about the etching with inventory number NK 3537. In that letter of 2 July, BHG informed the family members that NK 3537 might well be one of the possessions of S.E. that were handed over to the looting bank Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co. of Amsterdam, S.E. being a relation of the addressees who died on 1 February 1943.

Following the request for advice submitted by the State Secretary, the Restitutions Committee initiated an investigation into the facts, the results of which are presented in a draft investigatory report dated 13 June 2005. This draft was presented to the applicant with an accompanying letter dated 14 June 2005. The applicant subsequently informed the Committee that she agreed with this description of the facts. On 27 June 2005 the Restitutions Committee formally adopted the investigatory report.

The content of all the above-mentioned documents and records is considered to be included in this advice and to form a part of it.

General considerations (with respect to private individuals and art dealers)

a) The Restitutions 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 Restitutions 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 Restitutions 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 Restitutions 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 nova (new facts).

General consideration (solely with respect to art dealers)

e) Involuntary sales shall also include sales – without the approval of the art dealer – by Verwalters or other administrators not appointed by the owner, from the old trading stock placed under their administration, in so far as the original owners or their heirs have not enjoyed the full benefit of the transaction and in so far as the owner has not expressly waived his or her rights after the war ended.

Special considerations

  1. The applicant is requesting restitution of the etching Landscape with river and windmills by Graadt van Roggen in her capacity as heir to her great-aunt S.E. In this connection the Committee took note of the certificate of inheritance drawn up by civil-law notary J.W.Th. Küller of The Hague, which can be found in the Committee’s file on the investigation and which shows who S.E.’s heirs were on 1 July 1959. In this procedure the applicant is acting on her own behalf and not on behalf of all the heirs, although the Committee concludes from the correspondence with the applicant that she is attempting to achieve restitution of the etching to the joint heirs.
  2. S.E., who was born on 8 March 1871 and died on 1 February 1943, owned an art collection that included an etching of the aforementioned illustration by Graadt van Roggen. Please see the investigatory report for an extensive description of Ms E.’s loss of ownership of the art collection. The following information will suffice here.S.E., who was of Jewish origin, lived during the war at Ruychrocklaan 54 in The Hague, where she died unmarried and childless on 1 February 1943. Immediately after her death the household effects were seized by the so-called ‘Einsatzstab Rosenberg’, an organisation whose aim was the systematic plunder of art and cultural objects belonging to Jews in Europe. As stated in a recovered confirmation of receipt provided by this looting organisation, the household effects included some ‘Wandbilder‘, or wall paintings. After the works of art had been looted from S.E.’s house, they were delivered to the looting bank Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co. (the so-called ‘Liro bank’), as evidenced by the inclusion on the so-called Liro list of various works of art from the estate of ‘S. E., resident at Ruychrocklaan 54 in The Hague‘. The aim was to sell the works on to various Dutch and German buyers. Almost all of S.E.’s art collection was bought by the Berlin company Reinheldt, which was one of the major buyers of art owned by Jews that was handed over to the Liro bank during the war. The works of art owned by S.E. on the Liro list include the etching ‘Molens a/h water‘ [‘Windmills by water’] for which ‘n/J.Maris door Gr. v. Roggen‘ is named as the maker. The Liro bank valued the work at fifteen guilders and on 18 January 1944 it was sold for twenty guilders to the aforementioned Reinheldt company.
  3. Based on this information, the Committee determined that the loss of the art collection from S.E.’s estate was involuntary and was a result of circumstances that were directly connected to the Nazi regime.
  4. Until recently, S.E.’s family did not know the location of the etching by Graadt van Roggen, and the Dutch post-war authorities responsible for the restoration of rights did not know where the etching was either. There has therefore been no settled application for restoration of rights.
  5. After the war, the E. family – via the Foundation of Jewish Communities and Social Organisations for Damage Reimbursement (Stichting Jokos) – applied for damages for the seizure and transfer to Germany of the contents of S.E.’s home. In addition, there may have been a payment made in the 1950s of part of the sale price of twenty guilders for the etching that the Liro bank received during the war. The investigation does not offer any answers as to how to handle these two issues. In this regard the Committee considers that further investigation is not necessary given that such payments could not affect the current application for restitution.
  6. The Committee then had to answer the question as to whether there was sufficient evidence to assume that the etching by Graadt van Roggen – which is known as NK 3537 in the National Art Collection – is the etching by Graadt van Roggen from S.E.’s looted art collection. In this connection the Committee considers that several copies of the same etching could exist. However, there are a number of points in the conclusion published by BHG regarding the provenance investigation into NK 3537 on which an identification might be based. The conclusion reads as follows:‘The ICN archive shows that this etching was given to the local Municipal Museum together with two paintings by Amsterdam detectives shortly after the war. The museum transferred the works in 1975 to the State Art Collections Service [‘Dienst voor ‘s Rijks verspreide kunstwerpen’] at which time the suspicion was expressed that the works were either Jewish or enemy assets.’This is supported by the statement in the Committee’s investigatory report regarding the intervening period:‘If the etching NK 3537 is indeed identical to the print mentioned on the Liro list, that raises the question as to how it is possible that the work of art was in the Netherlands just after the war – more than a year after it was purchased by the German company Reinheldt. There are a number of conceivable possibilities. It may well be that the company owned a storage facility in the Netherlands where part of the purchased stock was stored, or maybe Reinheldt sold the etching on to a buyer in the Netherlands. However, this remains guesswork: there are few indications to work with because it is not known where the print was found after the war and under what circumstances it came into the hands of the Amsterdam detectives.’
  7. Given the relaxed burden of proof in the current restitutions policy, the Committee considers that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the etching lost by S.E. is etching NK 3537 for which the applicant has applied for restitution. With reference as far as necessary to the Committee’s third general consideration, namely that the risk presented by the lack of more detail is a risk that should be borne by the government, the Committee considers that the present application for restitution to the heirs of S.E. can be granted.


The Restitutions Committee advises the State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science to return the etching Landscape with river and windmills by J.M. Graadt van Roggen (NK 3537) to the heirs of S.E.

Adopted at the meeting on 27 June 2005,

B.J. Asscher (Chairman)
J.Th.M. Bank
J.C.M. Leijten
P.J.N. van Os
E.J. van Straaten
H.M. Verrijn Stuart
I.C. van der Vlies

Summary RC 1.25


In a letter dated 23 December 2004, the State Secretary asked the Restitutions Committee for advice about the application for restitution of the etching Landscape with river and windmills by J.M. Graadt van Roggen. This work of art was part of the Dutch National Art Collection under inventory number NK 3537. The restitution application was submitted by a second cousin of Ms S. E., who was possibly the original owner of the etching. The restitution application came about following correspondence with the Origins Unknown Agency, which had approached various relatives of S. E. in an attempt to gather more information about this etching. Research by the Origins Unknown Agency had revealed that the work of art might well have originated from the possessions of S. E. that were surrendered to Amsterdam looting bank Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co during the Second World War.