National Museum reclaims works by acclaimed Polish artists

The lost works of the outstanding painter Michał Elwiro Andriolli and a painting by Teodor Axentowicz have returned to the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw. Until recently, their fate has remained unknown since WWII and efforts to recover them lasted almost a decade.

The discovered works come from the interwar collection of the Warsaw Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts (TZSP). Only in 2011, "Lady in peacock feathers" by Axentowicz appeared on the antiquarian market, while in 2013 - drawings by Andriolli. Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and cooperation with law enforcement agencies, the objects returned to the collections of the National Museum in Warsaw - the heir to the pre-war collection of the TZSP. Before it was presented to the public, the damaged Axentowicz's painting underwent restoration work.

Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Gliński said that the process of recovering the works took almost a decade. He recalled that during WWII, over half a million works of art valued at several tens of billions of dollars at that time disappeared from Polish private and public collections.

"This scale of losses cannot be compared with other European countries," he said. The task of their recovery is dealt with by a special department of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The catalogue of war losses includes over 64,000 described objects, of which only 14,000 are photographed, while the rest have only been described. In this context, Minister Gliński stressed that the recovery of works of art lost during WWII was largely dependent on the actions of other countries.

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