Looted art missing since second world war discovered in Moscow museum

A stash of Renaissance sculptures has been discovered in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation has announced.

According to The Art Newspaper, the fifty-nine Italian sculptures include works by Donatello, Giovanni Pisano and Andrea del Verrochhio, and have been missing since the Second World War.

They were part of a much larger group of works, which included a Caravaggio painting, that were stored in a tower in Berlin to protect them from the bombing. The building suffered fire damage but those works that were not destroyed were seized by Soviet troops and taken to Moscow.

It has taken a decade of collaboration between German and Russian museums to work out which works have survived.

Neville Rowley, curator of Italian Renaissance art at the Bode Museum, told The Art Newspaper that although many of the works discovered are damaged, “there are plans to exhibit the sculptures at the Pushkin Museum after they’ve been restored.”

He added, “What we have found is that the sculptures that survived the fire in the flak tower were made of marble, bronze and terracotta, but sculptures made of stucco or wood did not. Paintings, such as the one by Caravaggio, were most likely also destroyed simply because of the material they were made of.”

The Red Army’s “Trophy Brigades” looted more than 2.6m works of art from eastern Germany as reparations for the damage and looting wrought by German troops upon the Soviet Union. In 1958, in a gesture of friendship to the communist East German regime, the Soviet Union returned some 1.5 million works to Germany. Disputes over ownership are ongoing.

Research into this collection will continue, but findings will not be published until at least 2019.

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