US museum to return Nazi-looted shield to Czechia

Prague Monitor 31 July 2018

Washington, July 30 (CTK) - The Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA, will return a valuable Renaissance shield, which the Nazis looted from the Konopiste chateau, central Bohemia, during WWII, to the Czech Republic, the tachles Swiss-Jewish weekly has reported on its website.

The museum decided so after a long process of verifying the origin of the valuable artifact from the 1530s, decorated by Italian artist Girolami di Tommaso da Treviso, which the Nazis wanted to display in Linz where Adolf Hitler planned to build a museum, tachles writes.

Czech historian Ladislav Cepicka came across the shield in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during his research in 2016 and informed the public about his finding.

After a two-year research and negotiations between the Czech Republic and the Philadelphia Museum, it was eventually proven that the Renaissance shield had really belonged to the collection of the d'Este family stored in the Konopiste chateau, the server writes.

The verification process lasted so long as the original inventory number had been removed from the shield after World War Two.

The director of Philadelphia Museum of Art, Timothy Rub, has told Antonin Hradilek, a special representative for the Holocaust and anti-Semitism affairs of the Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry, that there is no doubt about the shield belonging to the Czech Republic, tachles writes.

The round ceremonial shield with a 61cm diameter is made of wood and coated with leather. The front side is covered with linen pigmented with gold, depicting the conquest of a town, while the back side shows scenes with armed riders.

The shield comes from the arms collections of the Italian noble House of d'Este that were inherited by Archduke Franz Ferdinand d'Este (1863-1914), who installed numerous pieces from the collections in the Konopiste chateau near Prague he chose for his family residence. He was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 became a pretext for WWI.

Czechoslovakia, founded after WWI in October 1918, nationalised the chateau along with other property of the Habsburgs in the country.

After the occupation of the Czech Lands in 1939, the Nazis seized Konopiste and sent the collections to Prague from where the shield was transported to Vienna. Its further post-war fate is unknown. However, in 1976, collector of German origin Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, living in New York, left it to the Philadelphia Museum, along with other artifacts in his collection, tachles writes.

The Czech Republic is considering keeping the shield in the United States for the time being, while the Philadelphia Museum would prepare an exhibition mapping the history of the rare item, the value of which is put at one million USD, the server says.
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