The picture had great meaning for Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck because it had previously hung in her family’s dining room directly behind her chair. She spent years seeking for it.
A painting done by a Dutch master was in Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck’s family’s house when she was a little child growing up in the Netherlands in the 1930s. The painting was later taken during World War II by Nazis, but it has eventually been returned.
As quoted by Artnet, Bischoff van Heemskerck remarked, “I was so thrilled to see the painting again, which always hung behind my chair in the dining room.”
“This picture was a huge part of our everyday lives, and we all really missed it. It is a stunning artwork that has been expertly painted, with a subtle color scheme on the magnificent coat and an expression on the sitter’s face that conveys his generosity and impressiveness.
The “Portrait of Steven Wolters” by Dutch Old Master Caspar Netscher, created in 1683, reportedly hung on the wall of Bischoff van Heemskerck’s residence in the city of Arnhem, according to The Guardian. Her father, a physician who served as the city’s children’s hospital director enjoyed collecting art.
However, 14 of Bischoff van Heemskerck father art collections were stored in the Amsterdam Bank in Arnhem by his father when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands in the 1940s. He hoped the bank would protect the paintings, but in 1945, Nazis took all 14 of them. The Times claims that former Hitler Youth leader Helmut Temmler, who orchestrated a last-minute bank burglary and detonated the vault, was likely responsible for the looting.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, just eight of Bischoff van Heemskerck’s father’s paintings could be located by Dutch authorities after World War II. The other six, which included a Caspar Netscher portrait of Steven Wolters, were no longer there.
But a non-profit organization that assists in finding missing art, the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, was on the case. They came to the conclusion that the picture had somehow made its way from Nazi hands to Düsseldorf’s Galerie Peiffer in the middle of the 1950s. Then, in 1969, it was put up for auction in Amsterdam before being purchased by a private collector in 1971.
Following negotiations between the Commission for Looted Art in Europe and the collector, Bischoff van Heemskerck, who is now 101 years old, received the artwork back.
Bischoff van Heemskerck stated to The Guardian that she was “amazed” and added that her late father would have been “very thrilled that it came back.”
Bischoff van Heemskerck does not, however, want to keep the artwork. She has made the decision to sell it through Sotheby’s and give her family the money she receives.
According to Bischoff van Heemskerck, “I had five brothers and sisters.” “There are 20 children, and they are all very affectionate, so I never felt like it was mine. It belongs to the family.
The stolen portrait is a part of an intriguing narrative from World War II. The father of Bischoff van Heemskerck, along with many other Dutch people, fled into hiding after the Nazis seized the Netherlands in 1940.
After her father had escaped, Bischoff van Heemskerck, a courier who joined the resistance, recalled SS officials visiting their house. She told The Guardian that “the German secret police almost arrested my father.” “When they arrived to take him, I opened the door. They were in such a rage, so we had to flee through the night and take what we could.
Bischoff van Heemskerck explained to The Guardian that she simply did what any other person would have done regarding her involvement in the resistance. I’m sure you would have done as well, she added. “We did everything to aid because we believed we would win the war.”
The picture created by her family will be sold at auction very soon and is predicted to be worth between £30,000 and £50,000.