UPDATE: Polish painting withdrawn from London auction
PR dla Zagranicy
A painting by 19th-century Polish artist Henryk Siemiradzki has been withdrawn from an auction at Sotheby’s in London scheduled for Tuesday.
A version of Henryk Siemiradzki's The Sword Dance. Image: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The auction house took the decision at the last minute, following a request from the Polish ministry of culture and national heritage.
Sotheby’s said, however, that its decision was dictated solely by the good of the painting and not by arguments by Poland.
Polish officials had earlier said that the painting, entitled “The Sword Dance”, was included in a list of Poland’s war-time losses.
But at a briefing on Tuesday, Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Piotr Gliński, said there was insufficient evidence that this was the case.
A Warsaw prosecutor has launched an inquiry into how the painting was taken out of Poland.
The owner of the work, a German citizen, claims it was purchased by his parents around 1960.
A preliminary investigation has revealed there is no documentation to prove that permission had been granted to take the piece out of Poland.
Gliński praised Sotheby’s for its handling of the case, adding that Poland would wait for a decision by a court in the UK and would demand that the painting be returned to Poland.
The painting is the smallest version of several of Siemiradzki’s works of the same title. It was shown at the artist’s one-man exhibition at Warsaw’s Zachęta Gallery in the summer of 1939.
Another version of the artist’s “The Sword Dance” was sold at Sotheby’s in New York for USD 1.8 million (PLN 6.5 million).
In recent years, two other paintings by Siemiradzki have been sold at Sotheby’s in London: “By the Fountain” and “The Tightrope Walker”.
Born in 1843, Siemiradzki studied in St. Petersburg and Munich. He lived in Rome for many years. He died in 1902.