So much for that then
August 2 2012
Picture: Art Newspaper
There was great excitement last night when The Art Newspaper reported that the Polish Foreign Ministry had announced the re-discovery of Raphael's Portrait of a Young Man. The picture is perhaps the most famous 'lost' painting in the world since its disappearance after the war, when it had been looted from the Czartoryski family by the Germans. Viewers of the first series of 'Fake or Fortune?' may remember Fiona Bruce interviewing Prince Czartoryski about his frustrating hunt for the painting. The Art Newspaper said:
A spokesman for Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Office for the Restitution of Cultural Goods told the Polish media today (1 August) that he is confident the painting will be returned to Poland. “Most importantly, the work was not lost in the turmoil of the war. It has not been burnt or destroyed. It exists. It is safely waiting in a region of the world where the law favours us,” he said, declining to disclose in which country.
The same story was also reported in the Polish media. But alas, this morning The Art Newspaper carries an update, stating:
In a subsequent statement on its website the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has tried to calm expectations, saying: "We have no information as to where exactly the image is... however, we can confirm that [the ministry] continues to monitor all signals reaching us about the image's location."
So what's going on? It's unlike The Art Newspaper to break such a big story without getting everything thoroughly checked out. Rummaging around the Polish news sites, the story today is that some remarks by Professor Wojciech Kowalski, who is the Polish foreign ministry's adviser on the restitution of cultural objects, were 'misinterpreted'. Instead, he seems to have said that although he does not know where the painting is, he knows it hasn't been destroyed. Which of course sounds even more curious. And curiouser still, the Dziennik Polski reports that the picture has apparently been seen by a number of Italian art historians since the war. But nobody is prepared to say where it is. Huh.
Update - a reader writes:
Even the painting looks embarrassed.