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Stolen 15th-century Dutch painting returned to Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

May 6, 2018

Circle of Jan Provoost, The Birth of Mary, ca. 1485-1500, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam
(photo: Aad Hoogendoorn)
Click on image to enlarge

Nearly sixty years after it was stolen from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, a 15th-century painting from a series on “The Life of the Virgin” has been returned, according to CODART. The painting, from the circle of Jan Provoost depicting “The Birth of Mary” “was stolen in broad daylight on 27 December 1960 during a lunch break from the security guard from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Thanks to a tip from an attentive German collector who came across an image of the work in the catalog for an auction in Bonn, the painting could return to the museum this week,” notes the museum’s website.  The picture has suffered some paint losses in the lower right hand portion and is due to be restored.

The painting’s theft in 1960 resulted in an international search accompanied by the offer of a reward of 2,500 Guilders.

Reward notice.

The museum’s website goes on to say:

After two years the work had still not surfaced and the search was stopped. The insurance paid out money with which a panel with the representation of the “Annunciation” could be purchased from the same altarpiece. The museum also installed alarms behind the paintings.

Circle of Jan Provoost, The Annunciation, ca. 1485-1500, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (photo: Aad Hoogendoorn)

The work is an oil on panel and was made at the end of the fifteenth century. It was part of the purchase of the Van Beuningen Collection by the City of Rotterdam and, at the time of the theft, only recently in the museum (since 1958). The panel has been part of a larger altarpiece, a multi-part of at least five other works, one of which, after the theft, has been purchased by the museum. At the exhibition ‘Babel – old masters from Japan’, which can be seen until 21 May, the work is shown in a display case next to the other work – probably for the first time in centuries.

“It is of course a crazy story, quite bizarre that it took so long and we now have two works from the same altarpiece.”
Friso Lammertse, curator of old art Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

Curator Friso Lammertse with the recovered painting (photo: Aad Hoogendoorn)

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