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Museums & Heritage

Thefts from V&A and Courtauld Gallery

Two Constables and three small paintings discovered to be missing from storage

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is appealing for help to track down two stolen Constables. “Dedham Lock and Mill” and “Sketch for Valley Farm”, both oil sketches, were in storage in August, but they were missing when an outside museum curator asked to see them on 2 November. Following a comprehensive search, it was concluded that they had probably been stolen and the loss was announced. “The museum publicises suspected thefts at an early stage, as this is most likely to lead to their recovery,” explained V&A Assistant Director Timothy Stevens. “Dedham Lock and Mill” (above) of about 1815 is oil on paper (17.8 x 25.4cm) and “Sketch for Valley Farm” (right) of 1835 is oil on canvas (25.4 x 22.8cm). Both were in plain wooden frames. The pictures are respectively valued at £500,000 and £300,000.

Three small paintings have been stolen from the store in the Courtauld Gallery. There was no obvious sign of a break-in. The value of the Courtauld pictures is considerably less (£75,000) than those of the V&A, and it is unlikely that an individual would have had access to the stores of both institutions. Initial reports therefore suggest there is no link between the two London thefts. The three Courtauld paintings had been among those sent to a secure store while Somerset House was refurbished. They are thought to have been returned shortly before the 30 October reopening and appear to have been properly checked on their arrival. They were probably, therefore, taken from the Courtauld’s own store, some time before the loss was discovered during a routine check on 6 November. All three are minor works which were not due to go on display. A £25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to a safe recovery, subject to the usual conditions. Top left, attributed to Gherardo di Giovanni,“Head of an angel”, late fifteenth century, tempera on panel, 30 x 19cm. Top right, Flemish School, “Landscape with St Onuphrius praying”, mid-sixteenth century, oil on panel, 17 x 19cm. Above right, attributed to Hans von Aachen, “The Entombment”, a copy after a work by Federico Barocci, oil on copper, 31 x 22cm.

Last month (p. 3) we reported the theft from the church of Roades, Transylvania, on 16 September, of twelve painted panels from this 1533 altarpiece by the Master of Schassburg. Now we have photographs of the altarpiece, open (left) and (right) closed. The stolen panels depict the Passion of Christ (8), the Baptism of Christ, the Beheading of St John the Baptist, St John on Patmos and his martyrdom by being boiled in a cauldron. The sculptures were not taken. A second altarpiece was stolen from a church at Fiser, nearby.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘Courtauld Institute and Victoria and Albert Museum lose pictures from store, an altarpiece dismembered in the church of Roades, Transylvania'