It is only thanks to the generosity of two private donors that the picture has become part of the public collection once again.
In the Artist's Studio, by Leon Wyczolkowski (1852-1936), was initially the property of eminent doctor and art collector Konstanty Karnowski, who purchased the work in 1883.
Karnowski kept the painting in his apartment on Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Warsaw's grandest thoroughfare, but donated his entire collection to the National Museum in 1918, when Poland regained its independence.
The painting remained at the museum until the Second World War, disappearing in unknown circumstances in 1944 during the German occupation of the city.
When the work cropped up at a Berlin auction house in 2009, Poland's Ministry of Culture endeavoured to reclaim the painting.
However, although the picture was on Poland's lists of missing works, there were no pre-war photographs that could corroborate the Polish claim.
The problem was solved thanks to the generosity of Witold Konieczny and Roman Kruszewski, co- owners of a Warsaw publishing house, who purchased the painting for 50,000 euros (223, 600 zloty), when it came up for auction again this year.
“Not for a moment did we think of keeping the picture for ourselves,” Konieczny told the Polish Press Agency.
In the Artist's Studio will go on show on 17 May next year, chiming in with the reopening of the museum after extensive renovation.
The museum will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its foundation in 2012. (nh/pg)