St. Philip Baptising the Eunuch of Queen Candace, by German artist Johann Conrad Seekatz was tracked down by the US's Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations bureau (ICE/HSI).
In 2011, it was discovered that the artwork had been put up for sale at a New York auction house in 2006, and that it had then found its way into a London art gallery.
After long negotiations, the picture was returned to New York, and it will be presented to the Polish Consulate in New York on 6 February.
The artwork had belonged to Polish collector Piotr Fiorentini (1791-1858), and during the inter-war period, the oil painting was held in the National Museum in Warsaw.
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Culture, the precise fate of the artwork during World War II is unclear.
“One can only assume that it remained in the National Museum until 1944,” the ministry has concluded.
The German occupiers carried out widespread looting of Polish art collections, and a far-reaching wave of thefts occurred after Polish resistance fighters launched the Warsaw Rising in August 1944.
The Ministry of Culture runs a database covering over 63,000 Polish works of art lost during the Second World War, and is engaged in an ongoing campaign to track down missing pieces. (nh)