Police have thwarted a brazen attempt to steal two priceless 17th-century paintings from England’s oldest public art gallery.
On Wednesday night (13 November), intruders broke into Dulwich Picture Gallery in London and removed multiple paintings by Rembrandt (1606-1669), one of the most famous artists of the Dutch Golden Age. The paintings were among 35 works on loan to the gallery for the exhibition ‘Rembrandt’s Light’. It remains unknown precisely which of the 35 paintings the thieves targeted.
“This was an audacious attempted burglary and was clearly planned in advance“, commented detective inspector Jason Barber from the Flying Squad.
‘Rembrandt’s Light’ displays some of the artist’s most admired works, including The Pilgrims at Emmaus (Louvre, Paris), Philemon and Baucis (National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC) and The Dream of Joseph (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin).
Security staff were made aware of the burglars’ movements when an alarm sounded at 11.30pm. After discovering traces of forced entry and pictures missing from the exhibition, the police were swiftly called to conduct a thorough search of the grounds.
Officers expertly located one of the intruders seen running from the scene of the crime and gave chase. By spraying an officer with an unknown substance (causing no serious injuries), the intruder was able to escape capture.
Yet all was not quite lost. In a lucky break both paintings were found in the grounds and “secured at the scene“. Senior Curatorial staff are now working with advisors to assess the potential damage sustained by the works.
Over the years, numerous Rembrandt paintings have been victims to art heists including one of the most famous missing paintings in the world, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. Dulwich even houses the world’s most stolen painting, another piece by Rembrandt depicting the portrait of Jacob de Gheyn III. After being snatched a staggering four times, this painting has earned the comical nickname “takeaway Rembrandt”.
The gallery in South London will remain closed to the public while a full investigation into the attempted robbery is taking place. DI Barber advised that “our inquiries now centre on finding whoever was responsible for this crime and I would ask anyone with information to call police”.
Rembrandt’s Light at Dulwich Picture Gallery is expected to run until 2 February 2020.