Monday 24 January 2011

Senior Curator Praised as Stolen Paintings are Returned to Kelvingrove Gallery

In a case dating back to 1996 three stolen works of art, with an estimated value of £200,000, have been recovered after they were removed from museums in Glasgow to be sold on the black market. One is by the Scots colourist, Samuel Peploe, another by French artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and a third by Italian painter, Federico Barocci.The case took another turn in November when a senior curator at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum noticed the Corot included in a sale by Edinburgh-based Lyon and Turnbull auction house. When police recovered the painting, the auctioneers confirmed they had sold another work, the Peploe, from the same source. The Peploe was seized at a Glasgow art gallery owned by Ewan Munday. Mr Munday confirmed to BBC Scotland that he bought the Peploe at auction last year. He said police had given him convincing proof the work was one of a number of items missing since the 1990s. He is now pursuing a legal action against an auction house. It is understood that the Barocci painting was later recovered from the source's home.

A spokesman for Glasgow Life, the body which looks after public museums, said: "We're very grateful for the work of the police in bringing these paintings home to Glasgow. "However, every praise should be reserved for our senior curator whose keen eye illuminated the fact that the stolen Corot was up for auction. Without his wealth of knowledge and expertise, the works may still have been hanging elsewhere. "We will continue to work with UK police forces to ensure any stolen item is returned to Glasgow and we are grateful to the galleries who have readily assisted in this matter."
It is unusual to find a stolen Corot, a more common problem being forged works instead. His relatively simplistic painting style resulted in a huge production of Corot forgeries between 1870 and 1939. René Huyghe famously quipped that ”Corot painted three thousand canvases, ten thousand of which have been sold in America”. Adding to the problem, Corot was no ‘copyright activist’ and his relaxed attitude encouraged copying and forgery. He allowed his students to copy his works and would even sign their copies.
Source: BBC Scotland

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