A Goudstikker van Goyen in Gdańsk: A Case Study of Nazi-Looted Art in Poland

This article traces the provenance and migration of a painting by Jan van Goyen (1595–1656), River Landscape with a Swineherd, from the Jacques Goudstikker Collection and now in Gdańsk Muzeum Narodowe. After the “red-flag sale” of the Goudstikker Collection in July 1940 to German banker Alois Miedl, and then to Hermann Göring, this painting—after its sale on Berlin’s Lange Auction in December 1940 to Hitler’s agent Almas-Dietrich—was returned to Miedl-Goudstikker in Amsterdam. Miedl then sold it (with two other Dutch paintings) to the Nazi Gauleiter of Danzig, Albert Forster, among many wartime Dutch acquisitions for the Municipal Museum (Stadtmuseum). Evacuated to Thuringia and captured by a Soviet trophy brigade, it thus avoided postwar Dutch claims. Returned to Poland from the Hermitage in 1956, it was exhibited in the Netherlands and the United States (despite its Goudstikker label). Tracing its wartime and postwar odyssey highlights the transparent provenance research needed for Nazi-era acquisitions, especially in former National Socialist (NS) Germanized museums in countries such as Poland, where viable claims procedures for Holocaust victims and heirs are still lacking. This example of many “missing” Dutch paintings sold to NS-era German museums in cities that became part of postwar Poland, raises several important issues deserving attention in provenance research for still-displaced Nazi-looted art. Read the article.

More information on Dutch artworks in Poland available here.