Poland retrieves painting missing since WWII

A valuable 19th century Polish painting that went missing during World War II has been returned to Poland after being removed from auction in Germany.

Aleksander Gierymski’s “Jewish Woman Selling Oranges” was unveiled last week by Culture Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski, who said the painting was returned to Poland after many months of on-and-off negotiations with lawyers representing a German person.

The German, who had the painting for more than 30 years, has requested anonymity, Zdrojewski said.

The work — sometimes referred to as the “Orange Vendor” — was painted around 1880-1881, and is one of several works Gierymski produced showing Jewish life in one of the city’s poor districts. The oil-on-canvas painting shows an old woman in a cap and a thick shawl over her shoulders knitting as she holds two baskets,  one filled with oranges.

The painting has been returned to its original home in the National Museum in Warsaw where it will undergo many months of renovation.

The picture went missing from the National Museum in 1944, five years into Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland during the war. The work resurfaced last November among items offered for sale at a small auction house near Hamburg. — ap