19 April 2024

Salvator Rosa painting recovered in Romania after being stolen from Oxford

19 April 2024

A painting by Salvator Rosa has been recovered in Romania after being stolen four years ago from Oxford.

A Rocky Coast, With Soldiers Studying A Plan, from the late 1640s, was taken during a burglary at Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford University in 2020.

Other stolen items Anthony Van Dyck’s A Soldier On Horseback (circa 1616) and Annibale Carracci’s A Boy Drinking (circa 1580) have not been recovered.

On Friday, Thames Valley Police said Italian painter Rosa’s Baroque landscape was given to Romanian police in Bucharest by a man, who had sold on the other two artworks which are understood to be somewhere in Europe.

The man is being treated as a witness by Romanian authorities and has not been arrested.

Thames Valley Police detective chief inspector James Mather said the force is working with the Romanian judiciary and police, as well as the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Co-operation (Eurojust) and European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation (Europol).

“Some of the work includes detailed forensic analysis of the painting which is ongoing,” he said.

“While this is significant progress, two important works of art remain missing. That’s why we’re continuing to appeal for further information to assist in returning these irreplaceable artworks, which could be anywhere in Europe.”

In a video posted to social media, he recalled that the original break-in was carried out by three masked men on the evening of March 14 2020.

Mr Mather also said the forensic material harvested from A Rocky Coast, With Soldiers Studying A Plan will now be analysed.

Jacqueline Thalmann, curator of Christ Church Picture Gallery, said: “We’re grateful to the Romanian authorities and Thames Valley Police for their help in retrieving this priceless work and returning it to our gallery.

“The missing paintings have been on public view since 1768, so it’s vital that we recover them so they can be enjoyed and studied by all once more.

“Not only do the paintings form a significant part of our collection, but their significance to our British and European culture is inestimable.

“I’d like to appeal to anyone who has any information which can help return the remaining pictures to our gallery, where they can continue to enrich our public life.”

General John Guise bequeathed his collection of more than 200 paintings and almost 2,000 drawings to his former college Christ Church in 1765.

More bequests has grown Christ Church Picture Gallery to nearly 300 Old Master paintings.

Since 1968, the collection has been housed in a purpose-built gallery, designed by the architects Powell and Moya and opened by the late Queen Elizabeth II.

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