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Madonna Asked by French City to Return Historic Artwork Lost During World War I

Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock

The Diana and Endymion painting was displayed in the Amiens museum, until it was thought to be lost when Germany bombed the French city in 1918.

The mayor of Amiens, France, has asked legendary popstar Madonna to loan the city a historic painting that was lost when Germany bombed the area in 1918.

The Diana and Endymion painting by Jerome-Martin Langlois depicts the Roman goddess Diana (Artemis in Ancient Greece) looking lovingly at Endymion, a mythological figure known for his beauty, who spent the majority of his life in perpetual sleep.

The painting was displayed in the Amiens museum, until it was thought to be lost after World War I bombings. In 1989, French daily Le Figaro reported that the painting went on sale at a New York auction, where Madonna then purchased it for $1.3 million.

Amiens is currently a candidate to be the European Capital of Culture in 2028, a yearly award where the European Union awards the title to a city, which then organizes a series of cultural events to celebrate and acknowledge European heritage.

In a video posted to Facebook, Amiens mayor Brigitte Foure asked Madonna not to permanently return the painting, but simply to loan it to them for the year to increase their chances of being awarded the title.

“Obviously, we don’t dispute in any way the legal acquisition that you made of this work," Foure addressed Madonna. "But we are candidates to be European Capital of Culture in 2028. So I would like that on this occasion, this year, you could lend us your painting."

Because of the painting's spotty history, Foure added that she is "not certain that it’s the actual painting," but that “it’s extremely similar to the work” and she would "like the people of Amiens to be able to see it again."

The Louvre loaned the painting to Amiens before World War I, and previously examined Madonna's version before determining it “is almost certainly a copy, most likely by the artist himself."

Though it may be a copy, Francois Seguin, interim director of the Picardie Museum (Amiens' fine art museum), still agreed with Foure's sentiment, saying via the Agence France-Presse that the city still deserves to see the art, as “it’s the only evidence of the work that was lost."

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