Lost Painting Returned to Ukraine
An “Etude With a House” - a classical painting by Ukrainian artist Serhiy Vasylkivskyi has returned home from Germany, after 75 years of searching. The artwork was taken out of Kharkiv during World War II. Now, it's returned to Ukraine thanks to a so-called “secret well-wisher”
It’s creator, Serhiy Vasylkivskyi, painted thousands of landscapes. He bequeathed his works to the Ukrainian Art Gallery in Kharkiv.
“It was the best and the most valuable museum after the ones in Moscow and Leningrad. But it wasn’t included in the evacuation plans,” Valentyna Myzhina, Head of the art museum said.
During World War II, the Nazis took 756 paintings by Vasylkivskyi out of the gallery. Two years ago, the “Family House” suddenly appeared among the exhibits at an auction in Germany. The criminal police of Berlin reported it to the Kharkiv museum.
The winner of the auction turned out to be Ukrainian.
“He recognized at once that it was Vasylkivskyi and even assumed that it was his house. That was two years ago. He decided to make the task easier for us and sent us a picture of this portrait of the mother, and this little house at the bottom,” Myzhina said.
The inscriptions and stamps at the back of the painting prove that it belongs in Kharkiv. However, it could only be returned voluntarily. The “secret well-wisher,” as he referred to himself in the letters to the museum, agreed.
”The question of a price wasn’t raised or discussed at all. We talked about the voluntary handover. No one paid for anything,” Viktoriya Katsay, Head of Conservation at the art museum said.
Out of 70,000 exhibits lost during the war, the museum has only managed to find three. They were discovered in different countries. The painting by Vasylkivskyi that’s been returned to Ukraine.
“Here, we can see 100 percent Vasylkivskyi. It’s a painting we didn’t know before. Our understanding of the artist’s world has expanded,” Vikentiy Pukharev, an art expert said.
”This person did a good thing and wished to stay anonymous. We don’t know much, but there is an entire story behind this painting, how it was preserved, how it lived,” a visitor to the museum said.