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"What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been": the Fate of Paris Bordone's Venus and Amour and the Question of Trophy Art in Poland


Jonathan Petropoulos

While the subject of the “trophy” art removed by the Soviet Red Army at the end of World War II has received considerable attention?—?especially since Konstantin Akinsha and Gregorii Kozlov shed light on the Russians’ secret repositories in a series of award winning articles in ARTnews in the early 1990s??—??almost no attention has been given to the art stemming from Germany that ended up in Poland. Although the term “trophy art” is usually applied to the objects removed by conquering and occupying powers, these artworks also ended up in countries that do not quite fit that description. Poland is one such example: although fighting on the side of the Allies and therefore prevailing in World War II, the Poles themselves did not play the role of a conquering power. They nonetheless ended up with cultural property taken from the vanquished Germans. The existence of “trophy art” in Polish museums today is not a well-understood subject, but there are indications that there are more objects there than previously recognized. This situation is perhaps best exemplified by the remarkable history of Paris Bordone’s late-Renaissance picture, Venus and Amour.


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