The Art Newspaper has reported rather cryptically that one of the most famous missing works of art may have been found. The work titled Portrait of a Young Man that many believe to be a self portrait by Raphael disappeared from Krakow, Poland during the end of the Second World War. The painting was purchased in Venice in 1801 along with the famous Lady with Erminedone by Leonardo by the Polish Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski. The paintings were then given as a gift to his mother Izabella who placed the works in her country estate the Gothic House in Pulawy which was to become the first Polish art museum. The Art Newspaper writes,
Poland’s long-lost masterpiece, attributed to Raphael and feared by many to have been destroyed, has been re-discovered in a bank vault in an undisclosed location…
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.
However, things are not always so simple as the Art Newspaper has updated the story with the following statements that somewhat obfuscate the situation,
UPDATE: 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.”
UPDATE, 2 AUGUST: Wojciech Kowalski, the Polish foreign minister’s plenipotentiary for the restitution of cultural goods, who is an expert on the subject, told The Art Newspaper on 2 August: “Through a reliable source, we have known for some time that the [portrait] is in a bank vault in a certain country. But we do not know the exact location.”
The painting which may or may not remain a mystery has captured the public imagination over the years with a novel based on the case The Czartoryski Raphael by Stanley Sokol as well as an appearance on the Simpsons. Thanks to Art History News and 3 Pipe Problem for the Simpsons reference