December 6, 2014

Theft at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte (GNAM) in Rome

By Lynda Albertson

Photo Credit - La Repubblica
Italian newspaper La Repubblica has broke a story that a thief, or thieves, have entered the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte (GNAM) yesterday and made off with a bronze sculpture bust titled "Bambino Malato", in English "Sick Child" created by Medardo Rosso.  According to the article's journalist, whose name is not listed, the museum's authorities estimate the value of the stolen artwork at €500,000.

Medardo Rosso was a Post-impressionist Italian sculptor from Turin who trained at Milan's Brera Academy. Many of his artworks center around depictions of everyday life and imagery.   His break with traditional 19th-century sculptural attitudes earned him the reputation of being one of the country's first truly modern sculptors. To learn more about Rosso, there is an interesting academic article by Sharon Hecker that can be downloaded here on the history and ultimate identification of a wax cast of Rosso’s "Enfant malade" and which further describes the artist's mannerisms and artistic considerations as well as the public's awareness of this particular work.
Photo Credit - Il Gironale
Authorities indicate that the theft at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte occurred around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, while the museum was open to the public.  The bust was positioned on a pedestal near the doorway of Room 48, an area of the museum that is used as a exhibition space located within the right wing of the museum. According to Italy's Il Giornale, the room presently holds artworks that form part of a retrospective exhibition which began in November dedicated to the "Secession and Avant-Garde" which covers artworks by artists immediately preceding the First World War. 

Italy's Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo (MiBACT) has indicated that all of GNAM's cameras and alarm systems were fully-functional at the time of the theft and that  Italy's military police for the protection of cultural heritage (TPC), have assumed command of the investigation.  As the investigation continues TPC officers are interviewing museum staff and reviewing CTV camera footage to reconstruct the details surrounding the theft.

The Galleria holds the largest collection of works by nineteenth and twentieth century Italian artists including Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Alberto Burri, Antonio Canova, Giorgio de Chirico, Lucio Fontana, Giovanni Farttori, Giacomo Manzu, Amedeo Modigliani and Giorgio Morandi. There are also important works by artists outside of Italy including Calder, Cézanne, Duchamp, Giacometti, Braque, Degas, Wassily Kandinsky, Mondrian, Monet, Jackson Pollock, and Rodin.

For further reading on GNAM's exhibition "Secession and Avant-Garde" please see Italy's MiBACT article translated in English here.


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