Return of ‘The Lamentation of Christ’ discussed by Polish, Swedish PMs

For years Poland has been campaigning for the return of artworks that went missing in the mayhem of WWII and the mission is continued by Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki who, during his Thursday conversation with Swedish PM Stefan Loefven, discussed the possible return of a valuable painting by Lukas Cranach the Elder School that currently rests in the National Museum in Stockholm.

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Recounting the talks on Twitter, Mr Morawiecki said he brought up the return of the Cranach painting (The Lamentation of Christ, ca. 1538), because it had "a special meaning for Poland and for me personally."

He also said he was happy about the Stockholm National Museum's recent recommendation in favour of the painting's return to Poland.

The painting entitled “The Lamentation of Christ” by the School of Lucas Cranach the Elder, was, since 1880, in the collections of the Silesian Museum of Fine Arts in Wroclaw, today's south-western Poland. It was probably stolen after 1942, when the museum began to move its exhibits to safe locations during WWII.

In 1970, it was purchased by the National Museum in Stockholm, whose authorities at the time were unaware that it had been stolen.

The Polish Culture Ministry applied for the picture's return in June 2019. On June 23, the National Museum in Stockholm recommended the Swedish government return the painting to Poland.

Lucas Cranach the Elder was a German Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving. He was court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career, and is known for his portraits of German princes. Being an ardent enthusiast of the Protestant Reformation and a close friend of Martin Luther, he fancied painting portraits of the movement’s leaders as well. Cranach also painted religious subjects, first in the Catholic tradition, and later trying to find new ways of conveying Lutheran religious concerns in art. He continued throughout his career to paint nude subjects drawn from mythology and religion.

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The Swedish take on the coronavirus

During their meeting PMs Morawiecki and Loefven also tackled counter-epidemic measures in their countries, the EU's next Financial Perspective, and cooperation within the Eastern Partnership project launched by Poland and Sweden to aid EU-aspiring former Soviet republics.

And although Sweden has never closed its borders for the EU member states, which is something others found an appropriate measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the country prolonged its temporary entry ban to the European Union via Sweden until July 7, the country’s Ministry of Justice has announced through a press release.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the “aim of the entry ban is to mitigate the effects of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and reduce the outbreak of COVID-19,” SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Moreover, from July 4th, people who live in the following countries will be allowed to travel freely to Sweden: Algeria, Australia, Georgia, Japan, Canada, Morocco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay.

Having embraced the “herd immunity” tactic that did not require the institution of a strict lockdown, nor a mandatory quarantine and not even the closing of museums, bars, restaurants, gyms, malls, schools and nightclubs, the Swedish government’s approach received a certain dose of criticism.

Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist of the Public Health Agency of Sweden, told Swedish Radio on June 3 that "if we were to run into the same disease, knowing exactly what we know about it today, I think we would end up doing something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done."

The pandemic has also put a strain on the Swedish healthcare system with tens of thousands of operations cancelled in order to prioritise high numbers of seriously ill coronavirus patients. As the Local.se website reported, “an investigation by Swedish radio shows that the average waiting time for planned operations has increased by three months since the start of the outbreak.”

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