ArtSherlock - new app to recognize paintings looted in Poland during WWII

ArtSherlock is an original project of the Communi Hereditate Foundation, developed in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and with funding from the Kronenberg Foundation of Citi Handlowy Bank.

As the first tool of its kind, ArtSherlock is set to completely revolutionize the identification of artworks stolen during wartime. The innovative application can automatically recognize a work of art on the basis of a photograph taken with a mobile device camera, giving users the ability to identify a piece of art anywhere and anytime. The user can take a photo in real time or use one stored in the device’s memory, making this a versatile tool ready for any situation. Moreover, the photo used in the identification can be of the actual work or merely a snapshot of a pre-existing photo from, for instance, an auction catalogue or a computer screen. The application supports Polish and English and is available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

More information on the project is available at

Keeping up with the times, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is eager to utilize modern internet tools in its active search for Polish wartime losses. Early dividends to this approach include the location and recovery of Oswald Achenbach’s painting “Via Cassia Near Rome”, returned to the National Museum in Poznań in 2014. The Ministry’s systematic monitoring of the international antique art market led to the discovery of the work as it was put up for sale by a German auction house. Thanks to the ethical integrity of the individual in possession of the work, it was unconditionally returned to its rightful home.

The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is constantly exploring modern methods in the search for lost cultural property and it registers lost works of art in global internet databases like the Lost Art Register and the database kept by Interpol. This course of action maximizes the visibility of Polish wartime losses, which in turn increases the odds of recovery.

The ArtSherlock project is yet another step towards modernizing and improving the effectiveness of the search for and identification of works of art lost by Poland as a result of World War II.

Source: The Division for Looted Art