The recovered artworks were unveiled by Culture Minister Piotr Gliński at a news conference in Warsaw.
Gliński told the media: “This week, the culture ministry has received a set of 26 works of graphic art, taken from the collection of Jacob Kabrun, a merchant from the northern city of Gdańsk, who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.”
The culture minister added that Kabrun’s collection of engravings formed a key part of the holdings of the Gdańsk Municipal Museum, set up in the latter half of the 19th century, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
That institution’s legacy is continued by the Gdańsk National Museum, and that is where the recovered art will go, officials told reporters.
‘Restitution process completed in weeks’
The engravings have been recovered thanks to art historian and dealer Sylwester Rudnik, who identified them among the works owned by Polish art collector Piotr Molenda, the culture ministry said.
When Rudnik told Molenda about the origins of the artworks, the collector decided to hand them over “immediately and unconditionally” to the Polish state, according to officials.
The art dealer notified the culture ministry about the Kabrun engravings in January and the whole restitution procedure was completed in a matter of weeks, reporters were told.
Gliński, who is also a deputy prime minister, thanked both Rudnik and Molenda and announced that they would receive state awards “for services to Polish culture.”
Stolen by Nazi Germany
Gliński told reporters that the Kabrun collection, which comprised over 7,000 works of graphic art, was stolen from Gdańsk by Nazi German forces.
He added that some of the artworks “were transferred to the central German region of Thuringia,” and later, in 1945, “stolen by the Russians,” when the region came under the control of the Red Army.
The Gdańsk merchant’s collection included works of graphic art by leading artists from the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and France, both past masters and Kabrun’s contemporaries, officials said.
Poland regains lost art
Gliński hailed the “good work” of culture ministry officials tasked with recovering Poland’s lost art, and “media coverage of their efforts.”
He said this created “a good climate for further action.”
The culture minister noted that earlier this month, a mediaeval diptych painting by 15th-century Flemish painter Dieric Bouts, stolen by the Nazi Germans during World War II, was returned to its original place in the Gołuchów Castle Museum in western Poland.
He revealed: “Yesterday we regained a painting in Germany. Soon we’ll be able to unveil recently recovered paintings by noted, outstanding Polish painters.”
Source: PAP, gov.pl