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Long-lost Polish art recovered from the US

Seven paintings and four tapestries that had featured at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 will soon be returned to Poland under an agreement signed by Polish Culture and National Heritage Minister Piotr Gliński.

“The number of pieces of art we lost during WWII was immense, which is why every single recovery is of utmost significance to us,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage Piotr Gliński said in Syracuse, NY, USA, following the signing of an agreement on the retrieval of a collection of 1939 paintings on Polish history from the Jesuit Le Moyne College.

In Syracuse, Mr Gliński highlighted the stupendous scope of losses of art Poland suffered during WWII. “We have over 64,000 pieces of identified art catalogued and capable of being described,” the deputy PM said.

With 70 percent of its libraries lost to the fires of World War II along with some half a million pieces of art vanished, Poland has been on a long and tortuous path of recovering its lost heritage, also taking the matter to court with nearly 100 ongoing lawsuits.

The collection is comprised of seven paintings by the Brotherhood of St Lucas, a group of Polish artists active 1925-1939, and four tapestries by Mieczysław Szymański commissioned by the New York World’s Fair in 1939.

“These paintings proved that Poland was a progressive country not solely because of the
might of its arms but also by its political thought,” the deputy PM said.

If you are interested in what the paintings depict, click the video above to hear TVP World’s correspondent Rafał Stańczyk elaborate on the matter.

Common sympathies and values

The acquisition of the pieces was not an easy one as, according to the official, Poland “did not have any legal arguments” to pursue the retrieval.

From Monday, Deputy PM Gliński has been on a visit to the US. On the sidelines of the event in Syracuse, Mr Gliński stressed that “no matter the current administration, the ties between the US and Poland are good and Poland remains a very important partner. This is based upon our common sympathies and values, which are best pictured in these paintings and their history, also common interests.”

The official went on to say that “it is evident that the US needs the NATO eastern flank. The US needs dependable partners and, throughout the years, Poland has been just that.”


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