TWO 15th century paintings looted from Poland during World War II that ended up in Spain’s Galicia region, have been sent back after 79 years.
They were on display at Pontevedra Museum following the 1994 purchase of an art collection owned by collector Jose Fernandez Lopez.
Pontevedra Provincial Council vice-president, Cesar Mosquera, said: “We’re helping to restore an injustice, helping to restore plundered art, helping in whatever way we can to make the world a better place.”
Mosquera and a Polish government representative signed a formal restitution agreement last week.
The works- Mater Dolorosa and Ecce Homo- were part of the 700 piece Czartoryski collection stolen by Nazi forces from the Polish village of Goluchow.
They were originally thought to be painted by renowned Flemish painter Dieric Bouts, who was born in 1420, but it was later revealed that they were created by a member of his school or group.
The two paintings appeared in Madrid in 1973, but nobody knows where they were for the preceding 29 years.
So far the Polish government has only been able to recover one other piece from the Czartoryski collection.
Polish authorities contacted Pontevedra Museum in 2020 and made them aware of the fact that the two paintings were looted by the Nazis.
“The unit for the recovery of plundered works of the Polish Ministry of Culture identified these paintings through one of our Facebook posts, publicising some of our works,” said Pontevedra Museum director Jose Manuel Rey.
The museum agreed to return the artwork but the legal process, which included official permits for the transaction, delayed the transfer until now.