The Polish Ministry of Culture has launched an online presentation of the hundreds of artworks robbed from Poland during the Second World War, but recovered in recent years.The artworks, including the story of how they were recovered and restored, will now be available on the ministry’s page on Instagram.
The interest in recovered artworks has surged since last year’s announcement that a painting by one of Poland’s most famous painters, “By the Piano” by Jacek Malczewski, had been returned after going missing during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
Capitalising on the increased interest, the ministry has decided to showcast the 500 artworks it has recovered in the past 4 years.
Some of them are true gems, such as the painting "Winter in a Small Town" by Maksymilian Gierymski from the National Museum in Krakow, a collection of ethnographic monuments currently held in the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum in Lodz or a lectern - an antique vessel from the 4th century BC from the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw.
The Ministry is also taking advantage of the increased interest to inform the public that it constantly monitors the international art market in search of artworks stolen during the war, while also verifying digitised public art collections found abroad and various other opportunities to recover lost cultural assets.
It is estimated that Poland lost almost 14,000 paintings during the war, 1,400 sculptures, 75,000 manuscripts, 25,000 maps and 22,000 books printed before the 19th century (so-called starodruki).
The most famous piece still missing is “Portrait of Young Man”, painted by the Italian High Renaissance master Raphael. It is estimated that the painting would be worth around USD 850 mln if it were to be found today.