Recommendation regarding Zadick

Recommendation number: 
NK collection
Publishing date: 
3 May 2010

In a letter dated 17 October 2008, the Minister for Education, Culture and Science (hereafter referred to as: ‘the Minister’) asked the Restitutions Committee (hereafter referred to as: ‘the Committee’) to issue a recommendation regarding an application from the Foundation L.d.H.D. (hereafter also referred to as: ‘applicant I’) and an application from the Foundation S.J.M.W. (hereafter also referred to as: ‘applicant II’) for the restitution of the painting Ships off the coast by G. van Emmerik. The claimed work of art is currently part of the National Art Collection under inventory number NK 3536 and on loan to the Dutch embassy in Prague.


Both applications for restitution were submitted following contact with the Origins Unknown Agency (hereafter referred to as: ‘BHG’). The BHG informed both applicants in mid-2007 that NK 3536 may have been the property of Hartog Zadick. Applicant I filed the application in a letter dated 6 September 2007 and applicant II in a letter dated 19 February 2008.
Following the Minister’s request for a recommendation, the Committee instigated a fact-finding investigation, the results of which were included in a draft investigatory report dated 11 January 2010. Copies of this draft report were sent to the applicants for comment in letters dated 11 February 2010, to which applicant I responded in a letter dated 22 February 2010 and applicant II in a letter dated 9 March 2010. Both applicants agreed to the representation of the facts in the draft report. In addition, the Committee sent the draft investigatory report to the Minister with a request for additional factual information on 11 January 2010, to which the Minister responded on 24 February 2010 that he did not have any additional factual material. The investigatory report was subsequently adopted on 3 May 2010. For the facts of the case, the Committee refers to this report.


    1. Applicants I and II (hereafter jointly referred to as: ‘the applicants’) request the restitution of the painting Ships off the coast by G. van Emmerik, which is thought to have belonged to Hartog Zadick and to have been confiscated by the occupying forces during the war. Both applicants claim to be co-heirs of Betje van Gelder and, hence, of Hartog Zadick. According to a certificate of inheritance issued on 30 April 1948 by J. van Hasselt, civil-law notary in Amsterdam at the time, Betje van Gelder was Hartog Zadick’s wife and sole heir. With regard to the applicants’ capacity as heirs of Betje van Gelder, the Committee has taken cognisance of a copy of Betje van Gelder’s will, sent in by applicant I, executed on 4 September 1972 in the presence of P.C.J. Beynen, civil-law notary in Baarn at the time. The aforementioned legal inheritance documents have given the Committee no reason to question the applicants’ status as heirs of Hartog Zadick.

    2. Hartog Zadick (hereafter referred to as: ‘Zadick’) was born to Lion Zadick and Rebekka Cohen, both of Jewish extraction, in Arnhem on 26 August 1878. Zadick married Elise van Wien, which marriage was dissolved in 1936 on the latter’s death. The spouses had a daughter, Rebecca, who died shortly after birth. In December 1940, Zadick married Betje Van Gelder (1900-1974) without community of property. The Zadicks lived on Richard Wagnerstraat 12 in Amsterdam. Zadick was a merchant trading in textiles. After the German invasion in May 1940, the Zadicks suffered from anti-Jewish measures taken by the occupying forces. For example, they were forced to surrender a few dozen paintings to the looting organisation Lippmann, Rosenthal & Co. (hereafter referred to as: ‘Liro’), among which was Zadick’s seascape by the painter Van Emmerik. The couple was also forced to move to a house on Afrikanerplein in Amsterdam, in a Nazi-designated ‘Jewish district’. According to post-war statements by Betje van Gelder, the household effects at both addresses were seized, and the property that the couple had stored at a shipping agent was confiscated in mid-1942. The Zadicks were deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp via Westerbork. Zadick died in Tröbitz (Germany) on 30 May 1945. Betje van Gelder survived the war and returned to the Netherlands after liberation. She died on 20 May 1974.

      As far as is known, neither Betje van Gelder nor any other relative of Zadick’s ever reported the loss of any works of art during the war, so that there is no question of a case that has been settled in the past.

    3. Based on the facts summarised under 2, the Committee assumes first of all that Zadick’s loss of the paintings that were confiscated as described under 2 was involuntary and the result of circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime.

    4. The question that the Committee has yet to answer is whether the currently claimed NK 3536 is the Van Emmerik painting that Zadick surrendered to Liro. Bearing this question in mind, the Committee conducted a detailed investigation, which produced, in summary, the following results.

    5. The archive of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (hereafter referred to as: ‘ICN’) was found to contain correspondence between the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Dienst voor ’s Rijks Verspreide Kunstvoorwerpen (hereafter referred to as: DRVK), the ICN’s predecessor, which shows that the currently claimed painting, together with two other works of art, was handed to the museum by the criminal investigation department shortly after the war. The museum informed the DRVK at the time that the provenance of these works was uncertain and no longer possible to ascertain, adding that they were probably Jewish property that had been in the enemy’s possession. The museum believed that the administration of the works should be entrusted to the national government in both cases. On 13 March 1975, these three works were transferred to the DRVK and later registered as NK numbers; that is, as works of art with a war-related provenance placed in the custody of the national government. The museum stated later that if the legal owner of the works were to claim them, they would have to be returned to the owner. One of the three works thus handed in to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam was an etching by J.M. Graadt van Roggen (NK 3537), which, on the recommendation of the Restitutions Committee (RC 1.25), has already been returned. With regard to this etching, the Committee deemed it likely that it was Jewish property that was confiscated by Liro and resold during the war to the German firm of Reinheldt, one of the principal buyers of Jewish-owned works of art surrendered to Liro.

    6. The Committee’s research of the property recovery authorities’ archives in connection with the currently claimed work yielded information about three paintings by G. van Emmerik of which Dutch owners lost possession during the war. Of these, only Zadick’s painting, which was surrendered to Liro and listed as missing by the post-war authorities on the basis of Liro’s records, displayed similarities with the present NK 3536, whereas the other two paintings cannot be reconciled with NK 3536.

    7. Research into the provenance of the NK work conducted by the BHG led to the conclusion that there was no known information from which the provenance of this painting could be inferred. However, from comments in the BHG file regarding NK 3536, it appears that the BHG did not rule out the possibility that it was the painting surrendered by Zadick and that, as such, it is on what is known as the Liro list, an inventory of property that Jews were ordered to surrender to the looting organisation Liro by the occupying forces. According to the list, the work of art referred to by the BHG had been handed in by: ‘H. Zadick / Rich.Wagnerstr. 12 / Amsterdam / later verhuisd naar [later relocated to] / Afrikanerplein 40 / Amsterdam’ and is described as: [Voorstelling] Zeegezicht m/schip / [Schilder] P. v. Emmerik (1850) / [Tax. Waarde:] 275.- / [Verkoopprijs:] 450.-- / [Verkocht aan:] Reinhe[l]dt / VB / 999 / 31.3.43 [(Depicted) Seascape w/ship (Painter) P.v. Emmerik (1850) / (Valued at:) NLG 275 / (Sold for: NLG 450 / (sold to:) Reinhe(l)dt / VB / 999 / 31.3.43].

    8. The Committee has ascertained the extent to which the information on the Liro list matches NK 3536. The painting is currently registered under the following description:

      ‘Kunstenaar: Emmerik, G. van [...] / Signatuur: x / Titel: Schepen bij een kust [...] / Datering van: 1869 / Datering tot: 1869 / Datumtabel: gedateerd / Materiaal/techniek: olieverf op doek / Hoogte/lengte: 57.0 cm / Breedte: 74.0 cm’ [‘Artist: Emmerik, G. van (...) / Signature: x / Title: Ships off the coast (...) / Dated from: 1869 / Dated until: 1869 / Date table: dated /Material/technique: oil on canvas / Height/length: 57.0 cm / Width: 74.0 cm].

    9. The descriptions as referred to in considerations 7 and 8 of the painting on the Liro list and NK 3536, respectively, display both similarities and differences. Given that the Liro list is known to contain many inaccuracies and errors, the Committee subjected the differences in signature, description and date to closer scrutiny, which will be discussed below in considerations 10 to 12 inclusive.

    10. The claimed work was made by nineteenth-century painter Govert van Emmerik (1808-1882), while the Liro list states that the work lost by Zadick was made by ‘P. v. Emmerik’. Research conducted at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (hereafter referred to as: ‘RKD’) has revealed that there is no nineteenth-century (marine) painter known by the name of P. van Emmerik. The initial ‘P’ entry therefore seems to be a mistake, which, if the work on the Liro list and NK 3536 are the same work, could be explained by the poor legibility of the signature.

    11. The ICN describes NK 3536 as: ‘Schepen bij een kust’ [Ships off the coast], whereas the Liro list describes Zadick’s painting as: ‘Zeegezicht m/schip’[Seascape w/ship] . The painting NK 3536 features more than one ship, as well as a coast.

    12. On the Liro list, the painting surrendered by Zadick at the time is dated ‘1850’, whereas the ICN has dated NK 3536 to ‘1869’. A question mark added to this latter date in the ICN’s inventory book and inventory card indicates uncertainty about it. According to visual material requested by the Committee, NK 3536 features a signature below which is stated the year in which the work was produced. Both the signature and year are poorly legible, as a result of which the sources consulted by the Committee give different dates in relation to NK 3536. For example, in documentation from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam the painting is dated 1849, while a label from the DRVK on the back of NK 3536 mentions the year 1879.

    13. In addition, the Committee conducted further research into G. van Emmerik’s oeuvre and found that Van Emmerik specialised in seascapes. Photographic documentation at the RKD was found to contain (approximately) 138 seascapes by G. van Emmerik, seven of which were ‘definitely or possibly believed to date from 1850’. More detailed research into the auction details of works by G. van Emmerik revealed that approximately 100 of his seascapes were auctioned over the last 19 years, several of them featuring one ship.

    14. According to current restitution policy, restitution is only possible if the title to art objects has been proved with a high degree of probability and there are no indications to the contrary. In other words, the Committee has to answer the question of whether it is highly likely that the currently claimed painting in the National Art Collection (NK 3536) is the Van Emmerik seascape that was stolen from Zadick.

    15. The Committee deems this not be the case. The Committee concludes that a few indications that suggest otherwise are insufficient to support the conclusion that this is highly probable. The Committee bases its opinion on:
      i) the differences between the scene of NK 3536 in which a number of ships are depicted and the description of Zadick’s painting on the Liro list, which suggests that only one ship can be seen (‘Seascape w/ship’);
      ii) the date of NK 3536 (1869), which, although uncertain, ends with the number ‘9’ in all sources, whereas the date mentioned for Zadick’s painting on the Liro list is 1850;
      iii) the fact that G. van Emmerik’s oeuvre comprises many works that fit the description of the work lost by Zadick, including a number with the correct date.


      The Restitutions Committee advises the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science to reject the claim.

      Adopted at the meeting of 3 May 2010 by W.J.M. Davids (chair), J.Th.M. Bank, E.J. van Straaten, H.M. Verrijn Stuart, I.C. van der Vlies (vice-chair) and signed by the chair and the secretary.

      (W.J.M. Davids, chair)     (E. Campfens, secretary)