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Poland reclaims a Medusa masterpiece from London – a symbol of its ongoing efforts to recover lost WWII-era art treasures.
Poland continues its efforts to reclaim its lost cultural treasures, with the recent retrieval of a Medusa-head wall sconce from the Royal Łazienki Palace in Warsaw. This historic piece is among nearly 700 valuable artworks that have returned to Poland in recent years.
The Homecoming of a Medusa Masterpiece
Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Prof. Piotr Gliński, proudly presented the Medusa wall sconce, known as an “aplika,” at the Polish Embassy in London. This stunning piece was once part of the collection of wall sconces that adorned the Royal Łazienki Palace before World War II.
A National Endeavor
Acknowledging the significance of these restitutions, Minister Gliński emphasized that Poland lost over half a million movable art pieces during WWII. The country’s ongoing efforts to recover these treasures have intensified, with more than 700 objects successfully repatriated in the past eight years.
Overcoming Legal Challenges
Despite challenges posed by legal systems in countries where stolen art ended up, Poland remains committed to restitution efforts. While Russia’s cooperation remains elusive, Poland has submitted 27 restitution requests to Russia. In Germany, legal provisions allow rightful ownership to be claimed 30 years after the acquisition of a work of art, provided it was acquired in “good faith.”
The Power of Ownership
Minister Gliński highlighted that proving ownership is often the key to successful restitution negotiations. By demonstrating that an artwork belongs to the Polish state, Poland has successfully reclaimed numerous lost treasures, including some from as far away as Japan.
A Collaborative Victory
Minister Gliński extended his gratitude to Christie’s auction house for their cooperation in convincing the previous owner to return the Medusa wall sconce to its rightful place at the Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw.
The return of the Medusa wall sconce is another significant milestone in Poland’s tireless pursuit of its lost cultural heritage. As the nation continues to recover its treasures, each repatriation serves as a testament to the enduring importance of preserving history and culture.