June 22, 2017: back in 2008 the painting "The Last Will" by Nikolai Bogdanov-Belskiy returned to Taganrog Museum of Art - the place where it belonged until 48 paintings from its collection were looted in 1941-1943 during the Nazi occupation of Taganrog. It first surfaced in 2001 at Christie's. Russian ministry of culture led several years of negotiations with the private person who acquired the artwork at the auction house. The deal was finalized in 2008 thanks to financial assistance provided by TAGMET plant
and TMK Group.
Until recently this has been a unique case, because "official" German displacement papers didn't contain this art. Among documented art requisitions are the paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky, Dmitri Sinodi-Popov
, Konstantin Makovsky and many more, but "The Last Will" was listed nowhere - so finding it was a true luck.
Now we have an official confirmation that another long-lost painting - "The White Willows at Pond" by Vasily Polenov has been found. It all began with an art revision at the Kiel Museum of Art (Kunsthalle zu Kiel) in Kiel, Germany. The inspection verified paperwork for the art that came into Germany in 1933-1945, during the rule of National Socialist party. After several examinations of historical documents made by museum workers and German-Russian Museum Dialogue (DRMD), suspicion on the origin of Polenov's artwork was raised. All doubts were removed after additional information, rare materials and a unique black and white photograph were provided by Taganrog Group of Museums. The analysis proved that the artwork in Kiel is the Polenov painting displaced by German Wehrmacht in 1943.
"The White Willows at Pond" was made by Vasily Polenov in 1881 and came into a private collection in Taganrog many years before the Russian revolution. In 1920s it became part of the museum's exhibition and on August 27, 1943 it was displaced in an unknown direction. It first surfaced in 1959, when it was put up for sale at a Munich art gallery. In 1975 it was acquired by Georg Schäfer and decorated the interiors at castle Alt Schloss Obbach in Euerbach, Germany. On March 12, 1986 the amount of 40000 German marks was paid by Schleswig-Holstein's regional government to make it a property of Kunsthalle zu Kiel.
According to established international laws and German-Russian agreement on cultural cooperation of 1992, "The White Willows at Pond" is due to be returned to Taganrog Group of Museums. The delivery ceremony will be held on September 26, 2017 in Kiel, Germany.