Looted 15th century art to return after being found in Spanish museum

The two 15th century pieces, ‘Dolorosa’ (Lady of Sorrows) and ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold the Man) were discovered at the Pontevedra Museum in Spanish Galicia. Deputación Pontevedra/Facebook

Looted WWII artwork is to be returned to Poland after it was found in the collection of a museum in Spain.

The two 15th century pieces, ‘Dolorosa’ (Lady of Sorrows) and ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold the Man) by the Flemish painter Dieric Bouts, were discovered at the Pontevedra Museum in Spanish Galicia.

The paintings originally formed the same religious diptych by the Flemish painter Dieric Bouts.Public domain

According to documentation provided to the museum by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the works of art belonged to the Czartoryski Collection housed in Goluchow, west-central Poland.

Following Nazi Germany’s attack on Poland, the heir to the Czartoryski family collection, August Józef Czartoryski and his wife Princess Maria de los Dolores de Borbon Dos Sicilias y Orleans, tried to save the works of art by hiding them in the basement of the museum, located outside the wall of their estate.

However, they were arrested while trying to flee the country and the Nazis discovered the hiding place.

Following Nazi Germany’s attack on Poland, the heir to the Czartoryski family collection, August Józef Czartoryski (pictured here with his wife Princess Maria de los Dolores de Borbon Dos Sicilias y Orleans), tried to save the works of art by hiding them in the basement of the museum, located outside the wall of their estate.NAC

The paintings were taken from Warsaw in 1944 and appeared on the art market in Madrid in 1973, where they were bought by a patron of the museum, Fernando Lopez, for his personal collection.

In 1994, the diptych was purchased by the museum for a price currently equivalent to EUR 23,000.

At the end of March, the Spanish museum received notice from the Polish Ministry of Culture that the paintings had been looted from Poland by the Nazis.

The museum's director Juan Manuel Rey said: “There is no doubt that these are the same paintings that Poland is referring to.”Deputación Pontevedra/Facebook

The museum's director Juan Manuel Rey said: "There is no doubt that these are the same paintings that Poland is referring to.

"From the moment we became aware of this delicate circumstance we tried to determine the traceability and analyze the conditions in which they arrived at the Museum of Pontevedra.

"We don't know where and when they were acquired by Fernández López, but everything seems to indicate that he may have done so in one of the Maragall family's establishments, Sala Parés in Barcelona or Galería El Cisne in Madrid, of which he was a regular customer.

The actual number of war losses that Poland suffered during World War II is difficult to estimate. One estimate puts the total number at 516,000 works of art.YouTube

The museum also announced that before the paintings are returned to Poland, they will be exhibited for the last time for the Spanish public in January.

The theme of the exhibition will be the looting of artwork during war.