Magdalena Gawin, the Deputy Culture and National Heritage Minister, told “Polska Times” daily that Poland will continue to search for the painting “Portrait of a young man” by Raphael, which has been missing since the end of WWII.
“I can promise that Poland will not stop trying to recover this work of art. It is being taken care of by a department which has compiled a list of the Polish losses and they cooperate with domestic and international law services,” Ms Gawin said.
She added that Piotr Gliński, the Culture and National Heritage Minister, in the year of the 80th anniversary of WWII outbreak, made a proposal to Monica Grütters, who is responsible for culture in the German government. Mr Gliński suggested they sign a joint appeal concerning the return of pieces of art stolen during the war, currently in museums and private collections.
“That would be a very important declaration because often Germans are unaware of what was plundered and such joint letters always have a positive effect,” Ms Gawin told “Polska Times,” adding that Ms Grütters refused to sign it, even though she had twice stated that she would.
The Polish deputy minister emphasised that the list of Polish losses from WWII includes more than 60,000 items.
“Every year the ministry brings valuable paintings, old prints, sculptures and other artefacts stolen during the Nazi German occupation back to Poland. This is the work of many people in Poland and abroad. The trade-in works of art is a large market,” she said.
“Portrait of a young man” by Raphael was bought by the Czartoryscy family in the 19th century and was then placed in Czartoryscy Museum in Kraków, southern Poland. When WWII began the picture, along with two more of the most valuable pieces in the family’s collection – “Lady with an ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci and “Landscape with the Good Samaritan” by Rembrandt – were hidden but discovered and stolen by German Nazis.
The work of Raphael has been missing since the end of WWII. The last person known to possess the piece was Hans Frank, the head of the Nazi German General Government, this zone of occupation of Poland was not incorporated to the Reich.