The Polish government will officially ask the Russian Federation to return seven paintings from a public museum in Moscow that were looted during World War II.
In a statement this week announcing the move, Poland’s Culture Minister Piotr Gliński said some 20 previous requests to Moscow for the return of other works taken during the war had been ignored by the Russian government. Among the works Poland has sought to recover are paintings by Old Masters such as Dürer, Holbein and Cranach and manuscripts as well as historical records related to the Holocaust.
The subject of the current formal restitution request concerns seven paintings by Italian artists currently held at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. They were produced between the 14th and 18th centuries by artists such as Spinello Aretino and Lorenzo di Credi.
The works were looted by the Red Army, a faction of Russian forces, during World War II. Prior to their seizures, some were held in the Czartoryski family collections in Gołuchów, Wilanów Palace, and in Poznań, Wrocław, and Łódź.
“Traces of hundreds of thousands of items lead to the Russian Federation and former Soviet republics,” Glinski told a news conference. The minister added that Russia is the only country among several others that Poland has approached that has not yet responded to the government’s demand for restitution.
Poland’s ties with Russia continue to be strained amid Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February and an ongoing refugee crisis caused by the conflict. Poland supported Kyiv during the war and supported EU sanctions against Russia.