Stockholm museum to return stolen 16th-century painting to Poland

Stockholm museum to return stolen 16th-century painting to Poland

25 June 2020
Top image: The Lamentation of Christ (circa 1538) by the School of Lucas Cranach the Elder, courtesy of Nationalmuseum.

A 16th-century painting will be returned from Sweden to Poland, after a significant new finding proved that the work was stolen after the Second World War.

The artwork, The Lamentation of Christ by the School of Lucas Cranach the Elder, is dated back to 1538, and is currently on display at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.

The Nationalmuseum bought the work at an auction in the Swedish town of Mariefred, west of Stockholm, in 1970. The painting was part of a private collection, and there was no evidence that it had ever been looted.

A special commission at the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage that focuses on works lost after the Second World War discovered that the painting had previously belonged to the former Schlesische Museum der Bildenden Künste in modern-day Wrocław. The museum is the predecessor to the present-day Muzeum Narodowe we Wrocławiu, where the painting will be returned to.

Researchers at Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum and the Polish Ministry of Culture have been able to trace the history of the lost artwork: in 1945, the painting was due to be evacuated from the museum and taken to a storage facility in Kamenz, Poland, when it went missing. Decades later, it reappeared in Mariefred as part of a private collection belonging to a manager of the telecommunications company L M Ericsson.

The Nationalmuseum issued a statement addressed to the Swedish government recommending that the painting be returned to its home in Poland.

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