Image Credit: Thames Valley Police

Stolen Painting returned to Christ Church Picture Gallery

A 17th-century painting stolen from Christ Church Picture Gallery in 2020 has been returned after being recovered in Romania. 

A Rocky Coast, with Solders Studying a Plan, was painted by Italian painter Salvator Rosa, who is renowned for his dark Baroque style.  

Two other artworks, Sir Anthony van Dyck’s A Soldier on Horseback and A Boy Drinking by Annibale Carracci, were also taken during the raid and remain missing. 

The 3 artworks, stolen late on the 14th of March 2020, are estimated to be worth a combined ¬£10 million according to Eurojust, the European Union Agency for Criminal Cooperation. 

The gallery‚Äôs curator, Jacqueline Thalman, argues that the paintings‚Äô importance transcends financial value. ‚ÄúTheir significance to our British and European culture is inestimable‚ÄĚ, explained Thalman. ‚ÄúThe missing paintings have been on public view since 1768, so it‚Äôs vital that we recover them so they can be enjoyed and studied by all once more‚ÄĚ.

The Rosa painting was recovered after the man in possession of it turned himself in to the Romanian police. According to a recent statement by Thames Valley Police, the man has not been arrested and is being treated as a witness.

Thames Valley police further revealed that they have successfully ‚Äúharvested a large amount of forensic material‚ÄĚ from the painting, which is hoped to be of assistance in tracking the remaining paintings.

Detectives continued to call for the return of the remaining two missing artworks:

‚ÄúFrom information provided by Romanian authorities, we know that these two paintings were sold on in Romania but now could be anywhere in Europe,‚ÄĚ said James Mather, a detective chief inspector with the Thames Valley Police. 

This is not the first art heist at one of Oxford University’s galleries. In 2000, a Cézanne work worth around £3 million was stolen from the Ashmolean Museum and has remained missing since.

The returned Rosa painting is now on display in the Christ Church Picture Gallery. The gallery continues to leave empty the frames of the other two paintings, accompanied by a label reading. 

‚ÄúThe empty frame remains hanging in the Picture Gallery as a placeholder for the stolen painting and as a symbol of hope for their return‚ÄĚ.

Image Credit: Thames Valley Police

Image Description: Recovered painting