VAN HAM Restitutions

Van Dijk's "Venus with Amor" was long suspected in Russia, until it first reappeared in the Dutch art trade in 1980. In 2004/05 the Ministry of Culture had already tried in vain to return the work of art with its floral baroque frame to Gotha. Now it was offered for sale from the SØR Rusche Collection. Through the mediation of Van Ham, who played a decisive role in the negotiations with the owner Thomas Rusche, it was possible to achieve a clear concession. The purchase was financed by the Freundeskreis Kunstsammlungen and the Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha. The painting is now returning to Gotha after 75 years and will soon be permanently presented to the public. In 2021 the graceful Venus will be part of the exhibition of the returned paintings from the 1979 art theft.

For Dr. Timo Trümper, Director of Science and Collections of the Foundation, the more than 375-year history of the Friedenstein collection crystallizes in such rare moments of happiness: "With such spectacular purchases and restitutions since reunification, it has been possible to build on the historical reputation and reposition Friedenstein Castle and the Ducal Museum internationally.

Philip van Dijk (1683 – 1753) | Venus mit Amor Öl auf Holz | 37,5 x 31cm

The painting now returning home shows the goddess of love Venus in a southern landscape, completely exposed except for a blue cloth in her lap. Next to her lies Cupid, handing her an arrow, while in the background two nymphs can be seen against a mountainous backdrop. The representation, executed in vibrant colours, is subtly illuminated and masterfully varies light and shadow. Van Dijk, who discreetly inscribed his signature in the rock on the left-hand edge of the picture, was an extremely successful artist. His smooth and elegant painting was always enchanting, especially at court. Among others, he worked for the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel and the Prince of Orange in The Hague.