Sweden returns 16th-century painting looted during WWII to Poland
"The Lamentation of Christ" - a painting by an artist from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder has returned to Poland after being looted during the Second World War. The picture has rejoined Polish collection thanks to restitution efforts by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, as well curators from the National Museum in Wrocław.
The painting was added to the National Museum's collection at an official ceremony on Monday in Wrocław. Until recently, it was listed among Poland's vast war losses. But a provenance research helped to locate the piece in the collection of the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
The Nationalmuseum bought the work at auction in Mariefred, located west of Stockholm, in 1970, for SEK4,000; the painting was sold by the estate of Sigfrid Häggberg. There was no evidence that the painting was looted while the museum inventory states that the work belonged to "Director Häggberg" in Mariefred and was previously in Polish ownership.
"Considered one of the most valuable items lost in the WWII has returned to Poland. It's a painting of an exquisite class, that will certainly become pride of the National Museum in Wrocław," Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage Piotr Gliński said on Monday.
He added that the painting has returned to Poland thanks to an exemplary cooperation on many levels. "Everything began from cooperation between museum curators from the National Museum in Wrocław and the culture ministry. Thanks to his research, director Oszczanowski was able to locate a work of art being Poland's war loss in the collection of another museum in another country, and notified the culture ministry. Thanks to the materials collected with the help of Mr Robert Heś, we were able to launch and successfully carry out the restitution procedure," the minister said.
He also praised the exemplary cooperation with the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, which - according to him - displayed openness and, based on the material sent by the ministry, carried out its own research which confirmed the painting had indeed been stolen from the Schlesische Museum der Bildenden Künste in Breslau (now Wroclaw in western Poland).
"As a result, the Stockholm museum officially recommended Swedish government the painting be returned to Poland. Another fruitful cooperation has been concluded between the governments of our countries. Sweden has returned Poland its war loss willingly, unconditionally, and costless," Gliński underscored.
The painting was created in the second half of 1530s at the workshop of German Reneissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving Lucas Cranach the Elder, known for his enthusiastic support of the Protestant Reformation. The work of art was funded by the family of a merchant Konrad von Günterode and Anna von Alnpeck, whose coat of arms can be seen in the lower part of the painting.
The painting was on a list drawn up in November 1945 of works due to be evacuated from the Schlesische Museum der Bildenden Künste and taken to a storage facility in Kamieniec Ząbkowicki, Poland. At the end of February 1946, many works went missing including the painting in question which eventually ended up in Mariefred, where it belonged to Häggberg, a manager at the telecommunications company LM Ericsson. "According to Häggberg’s family, he did not buy the painting but was taking care of it for an individual who had given it to him for safekeeping," the Stockholm museum said in a statement.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP