For any potential acquisitions, the Mauritshuis conducts thorough provenance research. We were recently faced with a very unusual case concerning three paintings by Nicolaes Berchem. The museum has had his Allegory of Summer from the NK Collection on display since 1992. It is part of a set of four seasons that was dispersed at the end of the nineteenth century. The other three paintings in the set came on to the art market last autumn. There are gaps in the provenance of all three paintings, but no indication whatsoever was found that they had been in Germany or any other of the Nazi-occupied territory between 1933 and 1945.
Even so the decision to purchase the paintings created a dilemma: should the Mauritshuis buy these three paintings along with a painting from the NK Collection? On the one hand this was a unique opportunity to bring the four seasons together again and show the set in the way it was intended to be seen, as overdoors in a seventeenth-century house. On the other hand, the restitution policy is aimed at returning works of art that were involuntarily handed over between 1933 and 1945 to their rightful owners. It goes without saying that the Mauritshuis cooperates fully with this.