The Risen Christ and other religious artworks
The 16th century wooden sculpture The Risen Christ, illegally exported from our country, was handed over to the Lithuanian National Museum of Art in summer 2020. The artwork is of high historical and artistic value, one of a few extant sculptures of the Late Gothic style in Lithuania.
Before 1928 The Risen Christ was the property of the Bernardine church in Kretinga and used for Easter ceremonies. Then it was given to General Vladas Nagevičius, the owner of the Babtynas manor. The sculpture was believed to be lost after the General had fled to the West in 1944. However, it reappeared in about 1990; it was brutally covered with oil paint, the feet of the Christ’s figure had rotted and fingers crumbled. Rev Ričardas Mikutavičius bought the sculpture. Alfonsas Šaulys, a restorer at the Pranas Gudynas Conservation Centre, removed the overpainting to show its original polychromy and gold plating in 1997, but it was decided not to restore the lost elements. The Risen Christ disappeared after it was last seen in 1998 during Rev Mikutavičius’ funeral.
It turned out that the sculpture fell into private hands, was smuggled out of Lithuania and sold. It was identified in the Austrian capital Vienna as the property of Kunsthandel Reinhold Hofstätter, an antique store. It took ten years of litigation and big joint effort by Lithuanian cultural institutions, foreign diplomats, and law enforcement to return it Lithuania. The artwork handed to the Museum is slightly different – the feet and fingers of the Christ’s figure are fully restored.
Visitors of the Vilnius Picture Gallery can view The Risen Christ alongside other sculptures of the same period kept in the Lithuanian National Museum of Art: Our Lady of Sorrows, St John the Evangelist and 17–18th century religious paintings that used to decorate various Lithuanian churches.
4 Didžioji st, Vilnius, Lithuania
+370 5 261 1685