The Spanish government has returned two paintings to Poland which were stolen during World War II. Photo courtesy of Poland’s Culture Minister Piotr Gliński/Twitter
Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The Spanish government has returned two paintings to Poland which were stolen during World War II, as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City returned dozens of artifacts looted from Italy.
The return of the paintings was announced Wednesday by Poland's Culture Minister Piotr Gliński and Spain's Embassy in Poland.
"A diptych by Dieric Bouts found in Spain, a war loss from the Czartoryski Collection in Gołuchów, returns to Poland," Gliński said in a statement.
"At the Pontevedra Museum, representatives @kultura_gov_pl will sign documents this afternoon to successfully complete another restitution process."
The paintings depict Jesus and the Virgin Mary and together make a singular work, known as a diptych, and were made in the mid-15th Century and were originally believed to have been made by the Flemish master himself but have since been attributed to other artists in his studio.
Izabella Działyńska, who was part of the noble Czartoryski family, bought the paintings in 1883 and they were held in family's collection until they were looted along with more than 700 other works in the collection by Nazis during World War II.
So far, the Polish government has only been able to recover one other work from the Czartoryski collection, according to a statement from the Pontevedra Museum in Spain.
The museum said in the statement that the paintings left Warsaw in 1944 and reappeared in the Madrid art trade in 1973 "not knowing what their history was during that period of time."
The paintings entered the museum's collection from the collector José Fernández López, who likely obtained it from the Sala Parés in Barcelona or the El Cisne Gallery in Madrid.
Polish authorities first identified the paintings in the museum's collection as having belonged to the Czartoryski family in 2019, amid growing art restitution efforts worldwide.
The restitution to Poland came as nearly 60 archeological artifacts looted from sites around Italy were officially returned to Rome during a ceremony on Monday, according to The Art Newspaper.
The works had been handed over by U.S. officials to authorities in Italy in September international trafficking investigation led by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the cultural patrimony unit of the Carabinieri, Italy's national police.