Germany Returns Nazi-Looted Francesco Guardi Painting to Poland

Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier returning Francesco Guardi's Palace Stairs to Radoslaw Sikorski of Poland on Monday. Photo: courtesy Associated Press.

Germany is returning an eighteenth century Francesco Guardi painting to Poland’s National Museum, reports the BBC. Palace Stairs was looted by Nazis after the 1939 German invasion of Poland.

After the war, the Venetian canvas was owned by the University of Heidelberg before winding up at the State Gallery of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Its wartime provenance came to light in the 1990s, but it wasn’t until this Monday that Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, returned the artwork to Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

The painting’s restitution is unconditional, but the German government does hope that it will provide an impetus for Poland to return the Berlinka collection, a set of 300,000 books, manuscripts, and drawings that were stored in Poland by the Nazis during the war for safekeeping. The collection, which includes original musical scores handwritten by Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, is currently located at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University. Negotiations previously stalled in 2007 (see report from Poland Press).

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