Investigation launched into provenance of Dutch Royal Collections' colonial objects
The foundation that manages the heritage of the Royal House has commissioned an independent study into the colonial origin of artwork and other objects in the collection. “The research is essential for answering the question of the legality and fairness of managing these properties,” announced the Historical Collections Foundation of the House of Oranje-Nassau (SHVON). Queen Máxima is the chair of that foundation.
In recent years, a great deal of attention has been paid to the colonial origin of works of art in Dutch museums. Last month, Indonesia asked the Netherlands to return eight pieces from art and natural science collections for this reason. An independent committee will also be formed to examine requests for the return of items from colonial collections. This topic was on the agenda when State Secretary Gunay Uslu for cultural policy recently visited Indonesia.
The research into the heritage of the collection held by the Dutch Royal House will be carried out by a committee made up of members appointed by SHVON. Rudi Ekkart will chair the committee. Ekkart is an art historian and the former chair of the Netherlands Institute for Art History.
He previously conducted research into the provenance of works of art that were looted during the Second World War. The committee also consists of the Head of History at the Rijksmuseum, Valika Smeulders, and historian Martin Bossenbroek.
In 2015, Ekkart was on a committee that presented an investigation into the museum objects that have come into the possession of the Royal House since 1933. It turned out that the royal family owned one work of art that was stolen from its Jewish owners by the German occupiers during the Second World War.
The Royal Collections are privately owned, but the commission’s recommendations will “seek as much alignment as possible” with the government’s policy for colonial collections. The investigation will take at least a year and a half.
The heritage collection of the Royal House consists of all kinds of objects, said a spokesperson for the government and royal family’s communication office. These include paintings, wood carvings, correspondence and also items like crockery, cutlery and vases. Only the objects of colonial origin will be studied.