June 16, 2013

Amsterdam Diary: Visiting the newly opened Rijksmuseum is worth the stopover (and the day)

Inside the Rijksmuseum bike tunnel
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief

SUNDAY, Amsterdam - Saturday morning I avoided getting lost cycling through Amsterdam by using the Google maps I had printed out before I'd left home. I stopped by De Bakkerswinkel for thick buttered raisin bread and a latte for breakfast -- a crucial element as the newly renovated Rijksmuseum has only one cafe for food and drinks. A section inside is set aside for "picknicks" so visitors can bring in food and water (I never found any water fountains).

Crowd at Rembrandt's
 Night Watch extends all day
Visitors do have the option of leaving for outside venders and then re-entering the museum on the same ticket. I stopped for food and drink at about 1 p.m. after completing the 90-minute Multimedia Tour on the "Golden Age" of Dutch art (it took me twice the time since I looked at other works in passing). The line at the cafe was long, so I returned to the galleries for another audio tour that highlighted the collection. I spent another two hours looking at the art before returning to a less crowded cafe for a seat at a communal table and a recommended smoked mackerel tartare. The Rijksmuseum does accommodate long visits in the museum with plentiful sofas strategically placed in front of great art for relaxing views.

The crowd in front of the Vermeer paintings
The renovated Rijksmuseum offers improved lighting (large skylights augmented by lights by Phillips) and more room to display the collection. The crowds have increased in front of the four paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt's Night Watch, and three paintings by Van Gogh. A couple of years ago on a Sunday morning my family and I had found ourselves almost alone with these same paintings. However, the galleries are well ventilated and climate controlled and a visible force of smartly uniformed security guards manage the increased number of visitors. I did manage to sneak a few good photographs of the Vermeer paintings and Rembrandt's masterpiece in the last 15 minutes before the museum closed.

Jan Asselijn (1610-1652),
The Threatened Swan, 1650
The art is incredible. In Southern California we have numerous examples of Rembrandt's work from The Getty to the Timken Museum in San Diego, but the artist's work at the Rijksmuseum against other great Dutch work highlights his genius. It's worth the trip to Amsterdam to gain a greater understanding of why Rembrandt has endured -- even the few etchings displayed are impressive -- and influenced so many artists.

Biblioteek open to public
One of the benefits of the renovation is that lesser known works can again be displayed. For example, paintings by father and son Jozef and Isaac Israels can now be seen after years in storage. And the Gallery of Honour highlights paintings in the vast collection for easy viewing. For years my husband had remembered a painting from his last visit -- that of a large white swan with opened wings -- and I was able to show him the painting via Skype and the free Wi-Fi provided throughout the Rijksmuseum.

The multi-story library (biblioteek) is open to the public with available seating at tables for reading current art periodicals. 

The Multimedia tour is available for five euros at the Rijksmuseum or you can download it for free on your smartphone.

A distinguished gentleman and Rembrandt's Night Watch before closing.

Carabinieri Headquarters for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Publishes Annual Bulletins of Stolen Art Online

Ton Cremers for Museum Security Network sent out a valuable link to "Art in Ostaggio - Art in Hostage", bilingual bulletins of stolen works of art prepared by the Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale from 2004-2012 designed to combat against the worldwide problem of the illegal art market.

The 124-page report for 2012 includes a statement from the Carabinieri Headquarters for the Protection of Cultural Heritage:
We believe that what has been stolen must not be considered as lost forever. On the contrary, we regard it as held hostage by offenders who can and must be defeated by the Italian and international police force, together with the Ministry of Culture, the art dealers and all the citizens.
The information for each stolen object registered includes: artist or school (with indications limiting or the fining its paternity, such as: attributed to, workshop of, copy by, etc.); title or subject of the work; material and technique of execution; Dimensions; carabinieri databank reference number; and images.

The report is divided into archaeology; woodwork; ecclesiastic objects; painting; and sculpture. The report concludes with an index of the stolen works and a list of recovered artworks reported in the Bulletin's previous issues.

A year-in-progress list for 2013 reports the recovery of 10 objects previously identified in earlier bulletins.

June 15, 2013

Amsterdam Diary: Personal suffering displayed at World Press Photo Exhibit Amidst Red Light District

World Press Photo Exhibit at De Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief

SATURDAY, Amsterdam - Yesterday I arrived in Amsterdam and biked over to the World Press Photo exhibit at De Oude Kerk ('The Old Church') in the Red Light district famous for women selling their bodies in front windows and customers smoking marijuana in coffee shops.

The inside of the oldest building in Amsterdam (1300), De Oude Kerk is an impressive setting to display award-winning photographs from 2013 and the auxiliary exhibit, 'World Press Photo Laureates From Russian and the Soviet Union, 1956-2013.'

Rembrandt's wife Saskia is buried here.
Of particular interest to art history buffs, this is the church where Rembrandt received permission to marry Saskia van Uylenburgh (died 14 June 1642) and where she lies buried underneath a modest slab. Just as the church connects visitors to more than 700 years of Dutch history, the photo exhibit serves as a humble memorial to personal suffering in 2012.

Here's a link to the 2013 Photo Contest (winners were selected from over 100,000 images). The World Press Photo of the Year went to Swedish journalist Paul Hansen for Gaza Burial, 20 November 2012, in the Palestinian Territories, that showed two men carrying the bodies of two children through the street in a funeral procession. All the photos, such as scenes from the civil war in Syria to women who dare to play basketball in Somalia to a mother and daughter who survived an acid attack in Southern Iran, are accompanied by just enough information likely to draw visitors back to the news. These photographs make suffering personal.

Inside 'The Old Church'

Information accompanying photographs by Danish photographer Jan Grarup: 'Even though Somalia's UN-backed government has regained control of the capital Mogadishu, al-Qaeda-linked militants are still active in the city. Al-Shabaab and other radical Os;a,oc groups consider women playing sport to be un-Islamic. Members of the Somali national women's basketball team have received death threats.' The women have taken precautions. 'Team members have to exercise extreme discretion. They go veiled and conservatively dressed in public, and carry basketballs deep inside their bags.'

The Russian exhibit showed the passage of time, including toddlers learning to swim before walking (1979); the image of a deformed horse as a consequence of the nuclear explosion of Chernobyl in 1986; and from Georgia celebrating its membership as a Soviet bloc country in 1981 to its civil war in 1991.

The 2013 World Press Photo Exhibit will travel to 100 cities in 45 countries.

June 13, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - ,, No comments

Report from Amelia: ARCA Intern Sophia Kisielewska Writes about Dr. Tom Flynn's "Art & Business" Course

Photo of ARCA Class 2013
by Sophia Kisielewska, ARCA Intern

Art Historian Dr. Tom Flynn led the first course of ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies.

Dr. Flynn, a London art lecturer and docent, began "The International Art Market and Associated Risk" on Monday by asking the students to consider the question ‘what is the relationship between economic and aesthetic value’.  During the week he went through the history of the art market and explored how ideas of value were initially generated and understood within it.  The class looked at how the fashion for Cabinets of Curiosity stimulated an interest in enlightened thought and then later in the 18th century how the first auction houses in London, Christies and Sotheby’s, stimulated an interest in creating collections of art.  We learned how the desire to form collections of all things Classical and Italian was initiated by the travels made by the young aristocracy that had travelled to Greece and Italy on their ‘Grand Tours’.

With his vast experience in the art market Dr. Flynn guided the class through its complex structure, explaining the contemporary significance and ever-evolving roles of every faction: the auction houses, the art dealers, art collectors, museums and the art media.  He created a very easy atmosphere for debate and discussion and right from the off everyone was keen to contribute knowledge gained from their different experiences of the market. The vibrant mix of nationalities and expertise in the class made for a fascinating arena of discussion and those with specialist areas of knowledge brought valuable insights to share with the class, such as Anna Knutsson who, having worked as a researcher and cataloguer at The Smith Library and former Sales-room assistant at Christies, has had a lot of experience in the market of books and manuscripts.

Students also shared their own cultural/national perspectives.  Mink Boyce, a gallerist and art consultant from Auckland, shared her experiences of working in the New Zealand art market.  She spoke of the complicated ethical issues surrounding the trading of traditional Maori art, and the need for greater cultural sensitivity in the art market when dealing with such works.  This discussion arose from a mention of the recent controversial sale in Paris that auctioned off Native American Hopi and Zuni tribal masks. 

Every day after class, the debates have been transferred with enthusiasm to either Punto di Vino – a sophisticated wine bar just around the corner that welcomes the ARCA students like family -- or Bar Leonardi – a bar placed just outside the gate which offers an authentic Italian bar experience.

On Tuesday morning, Monica Di Stefano (ARCA’s resident Amerino) directed those who had signed up for Italian lessons in their first ciao’s and mi chiamo’s.  Armed with their exercise books, the students moved very speedily through the basics and by Thursday morning could be seen rushing into Caffe Grande before class to confidently test out their new skills on Massimo, everyone’s favorite barista.

On Saturday, at 7.45 a.m., more than 20 students made their way by bus to the beautiful Umbrian town of Orvieto. Monica Di Stefano, the trip’s tour guide, spoke of the city’s history from its inception as a major Etruscan settlement to its interesting relationship to the papacy in the Renaissance period and to being the one-time home of Thomas Aquinas.  The highlight for all the students seems to have been  Luca Signorelli’s astonishing San BrizioChapel in the Duomo, whose powerfully exaggerated nudes are famously thought to have been inspiration for Michelangelo’s ‘Last Judgement’ fresco in the Sistine chapel.  When asked about the trip, ARCA student Georgina Roberts said, ‘A quaint town with astronomical amounts of culture… and great ice cream’.

That evening many ARCA students joined the locals of Amelia in a pizza evening hosted by the ‘Collis’ contrada.  Amelia, like many medieval towns of Italy, such as Siena, is divided into condrade, and these zones of the city compete in various medieval events throughout the year.  The evening was finished off with music and a raffle, where ARCA student Sloane Taliaferro won third prize: a snazzy beach-bag and tights.

By Sunday everyone seemed a bit exhausted. Most people were seen taking it easy in the sun - when it wasn’t raining - but a few were hurriedly finishing their assignments for Dr. Flynn or desperately flicking through Noah Charney’s book Stealing the Mystic Lamb in preparation for Monday’s class.

Sophia Kisielewska recently finished her MA History of Art degree from the University of Edinburgh , which included a year of study at the Universita' di Roma Tre.

June 7, 2013

Retired Dutch Policemen Dick Steffens and Juul van der LInden's Form Private Detective Agency Missing Art

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Two former Dutch policemen, Dick Steffens and Juul van der Linden, have formed Missing Art, a private detective agency dedicated to finding lost or stolen art.

Steffens and van der Linden met in the detective school 1979 for the Amsterdam Police. “In the Netherlands, all policemen start in uniform with the normal police work,” van der Linden explained in an email. “After years you may specialize if you want.”

A few years after helping to ransom the kidnapped Alfred Heineken in 1983, Dick Steffens started his own detective agency, Interludium International BV, specializing in counterfeit clothes and shoes. Two years after Juul van der Linden retired from the Amsterdam police force, he helped Dick Steffens set up Missing Art. Juul van der Linden manages the department of Missing-Art for the Interludium Investigations Group. Here’s a link to their website, www.Missing-Art.com.

“In the Netherlands, there are not many private organization that find lost or stolen art,” van der Linden wrote.

I conducted an interview via email with Mr. van der Linden. 
If I were living in Amsterdam and had my painting stolen, would my first step be to report it to the police? What kind of action would then I then expect from the police?
One of the board members of the Dutch Federatie TMV (www.tmv.nl) once wrote that is was no use to go to the police to make a report when your painting is stolen. This was a statement made a few years ago, but with a lot of truth to it. At this moment I think there is insufficient knowledge of the world of art by the police force in Amsterdam. In the rest of the Netherlands, it is not better, although the Amsterdam police contracted three years ago with Mrs. Godthelp to start a better way to solve art crimes. She will make the first steps to making policemen on the front line aware of art crimes and that will take time.

The Dutch police have a unit working for the whole country, which is called KLPD. Mr Martin Finkelnberg with his team is making art crime visible with a computer.
What services does your private organization offer that the Dutch police cannot provide?
Missing Art can work faster and can in short time contact its network of experts. We also have frequent contact with our clients. We tell them step by step what we are going to do and we will have their support for that.
How does Art-Alert.net work? Is this service just in Europe? Does it have any connection to the Art Alerte in Canada?

Our Art Alert is ready to operate. In the last two years we collected more than 12,000 names of art collectors, auction houses and so on. At this moment we can warn in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (BeNeLux). We will like to expand this service to more countries in Europe and perhaps worldwide. We do not have connection to the Art Alerte in Canada.

June 6, 2013

Thursday, June 06, 2013 - , No comments

Report from Amelia: ARCA Intern Summer Kelley-Bell on ARCA Orientation for the 2013 Program

ARCA Interns in Cisterne Amelia
May 28th marked the beginning of the summer adventures for ARCA’s 2013 group of interns. In this year’s batch, we have three student interns: Yasmin Hamed, Summer Kelley-Bell, and Sophia Kisielewska. They are joined by Laura Fanadino, an undergraduate from Wellesley, and Kirsten Hower, ARCA’s 2013 Program Assistant, who is in her third year of working with the program. Each week, this lovely group of ladies is going to be bringing you insight into the program and some of its behind the scenes happenings. To start you off, Hello! My name is Summer Kelley-Bell and I’m from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Now let’s jump straight in to ARCA’s program.

The week started off with a few bumps along the way as the interns were reminded that Italian time runs a bit differently than any other time. Thankfully, we had arrived a bit early in order to work out the kinks and we have quickly adapted to the way a small town runs. Amelia is situated on top of a hill. Through the initial getting to know you stages between the interns, there was also the opportunity to get to know this fascinating town. Each day that we walked through the Porta Romana on our way to the library for work, we were also walking past a section of Roman road that has been paved around. It has been preserved so that future visitors to the city, or in fact its current inhabitants, can appreciate the history of this hilltop town. 

The official arrival day for the students wasn’t until the 31st, so we had a few days to get ourselves situated. We have checked out the grocery stores; sampled the wares at Bar Massimo, a local café; and headed down to Dixie, where Sophia and Laura successfully navigated the purchase of internet keys. These “chiavetti” allow students to plug in a kind of thumb drive to their computers so that they can have internet anywhere there is a signal. All of these things were done in preparation for the arrival of the students. 

Friday the 31st was arrival day and it could have been a hectic day but it turned out quite well. Everyone banded together to navigate getting students from all over the world settled into their various Amerini apartments. Thankfully, the early arrival of the interns and the director, along with the help of Monica Di Stefano, the Amelia-based Social Director and Assistant, helped insure that everyone was safely placed in their homes. We met up later at La Locanda to officially welcome everyone to Amelia and to the program. This local restaurant has played host to ARCA in the past and it never disappoints. A large group of the students even stayed after the welcome cocktail had wound down in order to avail themselves of some of Locanda’s delicious food. 

Despite only being in the town for a brief period of time, students had very little problem finding their ways to the meeting point Saturday and then heading in to one of our classrooms for orientation. We heard speeches from the director and her various assistants, as well as a few words from Crispin Corrado, ARCA’s Acting Academic Director. Then the floor was given over to the students and we had a chance to get to know each other a little bit better. Saturday was given over to the idea of getting to know each other and the town and the interns even took some of the students on an optional walk to show them where to buy groceries and other such necessities.

However, the intern-led walk paled in comparison to Monica Di Stefano’s walk on Sunday. June 2nd marked “Corpus Domini,” a religious festival in Amelia where the streets are decorated with flower petals. Many of the students jumped at the chance to participate in this day and could be seen helping the locals to create rose petal angels and the like. We then had a walk around the city where Monica explained more of its history and grandeur. Monica showed us some of the wonderful little secrets that Amelia has to offer.

This year’s group of students comes from a variety of different backgrounds and places. They have come together from around the world to learn about something that interests each of us in different ways. This diversity is sure to translate into a very interesting program as each person brings their own unique experiences to the classes. I, for one, cannot wait to see where this will lead.

June 3, 2013

Girl with the Pearl Earring and other Mauritshuis Paintings End San Francisco Visit -- Next Stop Atlanta

Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, Mauritshuis
By Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring ended its visit to San Francisco’s DeYoung Museum today.

This work was part of an exhibition of thirty-five 17th century Dutch paintings on loan from the Royal Picture Gallery Maurithuis in The Hague. Girl with a Pearl Earring is considered not a portrait but a “tronie”, the study of an anonymous face meant to portray certain characters or types rather than recognizable persons, but this has not stopped viewers from speculating on the sitter’s identity.

In Tracy Chevalier’s 2001 novel titled after the painting, the author speculates that the girl in the painting is a peasant maid employed in the Vermeer household. Art historian Benjamin Binstock proposes in his book Vermeer’s Family Secrets that the model is Johannes Vermeer’s daughter Maria, who helped the family of 11 surviving children (four died young) produce paintings as her father’s unofficial apprentice until her marriage. Vermeer, the artist of The View of Delft and The Astronomer, died at the age of 43. His work went unrecognized for almost two centuries until rehabilitated by the French writer Théophile Thoré in 1866. The Mauritshuis purchased Diana and Her Nymphs in 1876 as a painting by Nicholaes Maes (1634-1693). At an auction in 1881 in The Hague, The Girl with a Pearl Earring sold for “two guilders, plus the buyer’s premium of thirty cents”, according to Quentin Buvelot and Ariane van Suchtelen in the chapter “Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer: The Dutch Mona Lisa” in the exhibit’s catalogue, Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis:
Over the years Vermeer’s technique became increasingly refined. His talent for using small dots of paint to create an illusion of light playing on the surface of an object is indeed masterly. This “pointillism” was applied to great effect in The Milkmaid, for example, in which countless tiny highlights make the bread rolls and earthenware seen almost palpable. It has often been surmised that this technique indicates the use of optical devices, such as the camera obscura, but there is no proof of this theory.
As for the history of Vermeer’s paintings, Buvelot and Suchtelen wrote:
The inventory of Vermeer’s possessions – drawn up in 1676, three months after his death – records “Two tronies painted in Turkish fashion.” One of these works may well have been Girl with a Pearl Earring, since her striking turban is characteristic of the traditional attire of the Ottoman Empire, to which Turkey once belonged. If so, it means that Vermeer never parted with the painting. 

Twenty years later, on May 16, 1696, twenty-one paintings by Vermeer were sold at auction in Amsterdam from the estate of the Delft printer Jacob Dissius (1653-1976), who owned more than half of what is now Vermeer’s known oeuvre. This impressive collection of Vermeer’s had come from the estate of Dissius’s father-in-law, Pieter van Ruijven (1624-1674), a well-to-do Delft rentier.
The collecting history of Girl with a Pearl Earring is largely unknown:
The provenance of Girl with a Pearl Earring is unclear until 1881, when it was offered at a sale in The Hague, where the collection of a certain Mr. Braams was put up for auction. Victor de Stuers (1843-1916), an important art historian, recognized the quality of the painting and advised his friend Arnoldus des Tombe (1818-1902) to buy it. 

When Des Tombe, a neighbor of the Maritshuis, died in 1902, Girl with a Pearl Earring was one of 12 paintings given to the Royal Picture Gallery. In 1995-1996, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. displayed this tronie in a Vermeer retrospective.

The next stops on this tour of the Mauritshuis paintings are the High Museum of Artin Atlanta (June 22 through September 29, 2013) and the Frick Collection in New York City (October 22, 2013 through January 14, 2014).

The "Other" Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis Traveling with Girl with a Pearl Earring from San Francisco to Atlanta to New York City

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait
Germanisches National
 Museum
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Thirty-four 17th century Dutch paintings accompanied Girl with a Pearl Earring in the exhibition leaving the De Young Museum in San Francisco for the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (June 23 through September 29, 2013). Only 10 of those paintings will visit The Frick Collection in New York (October 22, 2013 through January 19, 2014).

Last year, a larger exhibit of 48 paintings from the Mauritshuis toured two museums in Japan: The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art (TMMA) and the Kobe City Museum.  The Mauritshuis exhibit at TMMA included a second Vermeer painting, Diana and her nymphs (now on display at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag). After the North American tour, Palazzo Fava in Bologna, Italy, will host 40 paintings from the Mauritshuis while the 17th century palace undergoes an expansion and renovation until mid-2014. More than 100 paintings from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis have traveled to the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague.

Portrait of Rembrandt
(1606-1669) with a Gorget
,
Rembrandt (studio copy)
The Mauritshuis opened as a Dutch state museum on January 1, 1822 as the "Royal Cabinets of Paintings and Curiosities." The catalogue, Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, includes "The History of the Mauritshuis and Its Collection" by Lea van der Vinde:
As its new name made clear, the museum did not merely exhibit paintings, for the entire ground floor was filled with a colorful display of "rarities." The art collection hung upstairs, where the walls were covered from floor to ceiling with paintings. Both collections had been formed over the years by various stadtholders; their turbulent history spans more than four centuries.
Rachel Ruysch
Vase with Flowers
1700
Mauritshuis
Half of the paintings at the De Young Mauritshuis show had been acquired by The Hague institution in the 20th century. Provenance information in the catalogue was provided in the section describing the painting and appeared incomplete. Many of the paintings have been restored in recent years. For example, infrared reflectography in the conservation studio in 1998 showed an underdrawing on a Rembrandt painting purchased in 1768, Portrait of Rembrandt (1606-1669) with a Gorget, that indicates it is a studio copy of a self-portrait of Rembrandt at the Germanisches National Museum in Nuremberg. The last painting highlighted in the catalogue is Vase of Flowers (1700) by Rachel Ruysch,  a married woman and mother of 10 children who painted until her death at the age of 84. A recent restoration removed several old layers of varnish.

The ticket to the Mauritshuis paintings at the De Young included entrance to an adjoining exhibition of Rembrandt's (and contemporaries) etchings from the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

June 2, 2013

Journalist Tony Wall Interviews Judge Tompkins on His Research Used in Dan Brown's "Inferno"

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA blog Editor-in-Chief

A replica of the Four Horses of
St. Mark's sit atop the Arc de Triomphe
 du Carrousel in Paris. 
Here's a link to journalist Tony Wall's story in the Fairfax NZ News, "Judge's Facts Become Work of Blockbusting Fiction", about how novelist Dan Brown appeared to have used the work ARCA Lecturer Arthur Tompkins published on this blog in the Doubleday book Inferno.

Wall writes:
A colleague in Italy emailed Tompkins and told him to check out the book. He popped into a bookshop in Matakana, north of Auckland, and found the relevant page. 
"I went back and looked at the article I wrote in 2011 and there it was, that passage. It's a small feeling of personal satisfaction that some work you've done has been read by someone else and then turned up in a place that I never would have expected to see it." 
Tompkins says Brown gets some of his facts slightly wrong - Brown says Napoleon displayed the horses on top of the Arc de Triomphe, when in fact they were displayed on a smaller arc nearby. 
He is also definitive about where and when the statutes were created, when no-one knows for sure. 
But that doesn't bother Tompkins too much. "He's very clever in the way he creates a feeling that he's revealing important secrets, where none of it's much secret at all. You get the feeling you're on this enormous treasure hunt."


June 1, 2013

Alberge for The Observer on "Art Detective warns of missing checks that let stolen works go undiscovered"

Dayla Alberge wrote for The Observer on June 1, 2013 in "Art Detective warns of missing checks that let stolen works go undiscovered: Case of 17th-century landscape highlights failure of European auction houses, dealers and collectors to carry out searches" Christopher A. Marinello of the Art Loss Register found a landscape (beach) painting at an Italian auction house.

"We do find a lot of stolen and looted artwork in civil law countries such as Italy, France and Germany. Consigners of tainted works of art often try to hide behind the good-faith purchase laws of these countries while performing little or no due diligence," Marinello told Alberge.

The 1643 work, by 17th century Dutch artist Jan van Goyen, a 'pioneer of naturalistic landscape painting' was, according to the article, stolen from: the home of Paul Mitchell, an antique picture frame specialist in London in 1979:
'The thieves forced open a window to enter his house. Mitchell assumed that the slight noise that he heard from downstairs was the family cat. "Police call these people 'creepers', night-time burglars who specialise in burgling people when they are in their house," Mitchell said. Describing waking to discover the theft, he added: "The anguish is a very long, deep-seated thing which never really goes away. Hardly a day goes by when I haven't thought about it.
'The loss of the pictures was also painful because of their sentimental value [Marinello]. They belonged to his father, but had become so valuable that Mitchell could not afford to insure them for their full worth. Back in 1979, the paintings were valued £5,000 reward for their recovery, placing advertisements in international journals and approaching a specialist art detective. But the trail went cold.
'It surfaced by chance a few weeks ago after a Dutch dealer tried to buy it in Italy. Before paying for it, he decided to check the database of the Art Loss Register (ALR), which tracks down the world's stolen art from its headquarters in London.'
'Negotiations were particularly delicate because, under Italian law, if someone buys a stolen work in good faith the buyer is sometimes entitled to keep it.'