6 February 2014
The work of art, looted during World War II from the National Museum in Warsaw, was recovered thanks to the cooperation of Polish diplomats and the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations (ICE/HSI).
"During the Second World War, Poland suffered vast personal and material losses. 6 million people were killed, including 3 million Polish Jews. The cities were destroyed, and all that represent and constitutes national identity had been looted. Even though it has been 70 years since the war concluded, the Polish heritage is still scattered around the world. Because of that, the consequences of the war are still visible – they do not expire," highlighted Consul General Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka during her opening statement.
"I am very happy that another painting that was registered as a Polish wartime loss comes back to Poland today," said Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski. "Unfortunately, due to our tragic history, the database of Polish wartime losses is still enormous. However, the Polish government attaches a great significance to this issue as it is one of our key priorities. We treat every painting, every sculpture, every historical artifact with utmost importance - they are the missing pieces of puzzle that make up the Polish national heritage. I would like to thank the U.S. authorities involved in this difficult and timely process for their cooperation with my services that deal with wartime losses at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. It is our common success," continued Minister Zdrojewski.
"We are deeply grateful to return this cherished painting to our partners from the Republic of Poland," said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge James T. Hayes, Jr. "Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work tirelessly to track down objects stolen during World War II and return them to their rightful owners."
Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the U.S. Ryszard Schnepf, also present at the ceremony, provided some closing remarks. He thanked again all those, who participated in the restitution of this work of art. "I'd also like to thank Marek Skulimowski, former Deputy Consul General here in New York, who is here with us today, and who put the whole process in motion a couple of years ago," noted Ambassador Schnepf.
The painting “St. Philip baptizing a servant of Queen Kandaki” is an oil-on-copper, and shows the characteristic episode from the Acts of the Apostles. Its author was the renowned eighteenth century German artist acting, among other functions, as a court painter in Darmstadt. The work came from the collection of Piotr Fiorentini, a Polish officer, clerk and art collector. Until the outbreak of the Second World War, the painting was exhibited in the National Museum in Warsaw. The fate of this piece of art during the war is still unknown. It can be assumed that it remained in the Museum until the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.SEE MORE