NEW YORK—A rare collection of Old Master paintings is on display at The Jewish Museum, and it is more than a bit ironic.
The show “Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker” consists of 200 paintings that were once part of the collection of famous Dutch art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.
When Hitler’s Third Reich took over the Netherlands during WWII, Goudstikker—who was Jewish—was forced to flee the country and leave his renowned art collection of some 1,400 works behind. His beloved art fell into the hands of Hitler’s henchmen and was taken back to Germany. After Hitler’s defeat, the Allies located 200 paintings from the Goudstikker collection and returned them to the Netherlands. The paintings were then appropriated by the Dutch government and became part of the national collection.
After years of battling the Dutch government, Goudstikker’s descendants have managed to reclaim 200 paintings from his original collection. Included are works of the Dutch Masters from the Golden Age, as well as from other schools popular at the time.
At the heart of the legal battle was a black notebook in which Goudstikker meticulously catalogued his collection. It was this notebook that provided the key evidence necessary to eventually win the collection back from the Dutch government.
The book is such an important part of the history of the collection that it has been made—through digital photography—into an interactive exhibit where visitors can virtually thumb through Goudstikker’s list.
Highlights in the exhibition include Jan Steen’s dramatic “Sacrifice of Iphigenia” of 1671, two splendid river landscapes by Salomon van Ruysdael, a rare early marine painting by Salomon’s nephew Jacob van Ruisdael, an atmospheric “View of Dordrecht” by Jan van Goyen, and Jan van der Heyden’s “View of Nyenrode Castle on the Vecht”—the country estate that Goudstikker himself owned and opened to the public each summer in the 1930s.
On view are also Pieter Lastman’s 1619 “David Gives Uriah a Letter for Joab” as well as excellent still life paintings and portraits such as Hieronymus Galle’s “Still Life with Flowers in a Vase,” and Ferdinand Bol’s “Louise-Marie Gonzaga de Nevers.”
In addition to viewing fine paintings, museum visitors will be offered an opportunity to reflect on the inequities of war, the looting of cultural property during the Holocaust, and ongoing efforts to recover artworks stolen during World War II.
“Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker” runs from March 15 through August 2 at the Jewish Museum. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $7.50 for students, children 12 and under and Jewish Museum members enter for free.