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An 18th century portrait of the German Duchess Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach commissioned by the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has been returned to its rightful heirs after 70 years. The oil painting by Angelika Kauffmann went missing from the duchess’ descendants’ palace in Poland during World War II. The work did not resurface until 2011 when a Polish consignor brought the work to Sotheby’s.

The painting was returned to the city of Weimar during a ceremony at the Weimar palace. Michael Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the heir of the painting, has decided to loan the work to the city permanently. Upon its completion, the work, which is said to be worth hundred of thousands of euros, hung in the Roman House in Weimar, which was also commissioned by Goethe. The painting was later moved to the palace in Weimar and then to a family residence in Silesia, which is now part of Poland.

A Sotheby’s employee in London was the first to spot the painting on a German database for lost art. After reporting its reappearance to Weimar city officials, Sotheby’s held on to the painting until an agreement was reached. An exhibition of the work at the Roman House is being planned for next year.

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