Attempted robbery of Rembrandt paintings at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Theft of two paintings was thwarted thanks to gallery's security staff and systems

The main entrance of Dulwich Picture Gallery © Polophilio/Wikicommons

The main entrance of Dulwich Picture Gallery © Polophilio/Wikicommons

Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London is currently closed while police investigate the attempted theft of two works by Rembrandt yesterday.

“Last night intruders attempted to remove two paintings from Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Rembrandt’s Light exhibition. The intruders were detected by the gallery’s robust security systems and, thanks to the immediate intervention of security staff and the swift response of the Metropolitan Police, the paintings were secured at the scene,” a gallery statement says. The gallery declined to specify which of the works were targeted.

Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn III (1632) has been stolen from the Dulwich Picture Gallery four times © Wikicommons

Rembrandt’s Light (until 2 February 2020) presents 35 paintings, etchings and drawings by Rembrandt, some on loan from museums such as the Louvre in Paris (The Pilgrims at Emmaus, 1648), the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (Philemon and Baucis, 1658) and Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie (The Dream of Joseph, 1645). The show focuses on the period 1639 to 1658 when the artist lived at his house in Breestraat in Amsterdam.

These are not the first of the Dulwich Picture Gallery's Rembrandts to catch the eye of thieves. A portrait of the engraver Jacob de Gheyn III (1632) has been stolen from Dulwich Picture Gallery four times (earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most recorded thefts for one painting). The work, which was last taken in 1983, has earnt the nickname the “takeaway Rembrandt”. The painting does not feature in the Rembrandt’s Light show.

UPDATE: A Met Police statement said: "[An] officer located and recovered one painting, and in cooperation with security staff, the other painting was also quickly found. Neither painting had left the gallery grounds and both remain in the gallery’s care. Detectives from the Flying Squad are investigating."