Blog Subscription via

April 20, 2024

Christ Church Picture Gallery painting by Baroque painter Salvator Rosa recovered in Romania

On 19 April 2024 Christ Church, a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England, announced the recovery of one of three stolen paintings, A Rocky Coast, with Soldiers Studying a Plan by the Italian Baroque painter Salvator Rosa.  This painting, along with two other Baroque Period artworks, had been stolen, by three masked accomplices, from the Christ Church Picture Gallery at around 11pm on Saturday, 14 March 2020

This first painting has been recovered outside of the United Kingdom, in Romania after law enforcement officers in the country were contacted by a man who was said to be in possession of Rosa's historic landscape.  When questioned by police, he admitted to having sold the other two stolen artworks onward, both of which had been on display at Christ Church since 1768.  

According to Romanian news sites, the restituted painting was handed over to the judicial authorities in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the end of March this year. 

The two remaining stolen art works are:

Oil on Canvas, circa 1616
H 91 x W 55 cm
Accession number: JBS 246

Oil on Canvas, circa 1580
H 75.5 x W 64 cm
Accession number: JBS 180

Both of these paintings are believed to be in circulation still. 

For now the unnamed man is being treated as a witness by Romanian authorities and has not been arrested.   The case continues in the United Kingdom with Thames Valley Police as well as with Romanian investigators working closely with the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and Romanian judiciary. 

The Christ Church Picture Gallery is known for its impressive collection of Old Masters paintings and drawings, with an emphasis on Italian art from the 14th to the 18th century. Works in the museum also include paintings and drawings by Titian, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Dürer, Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens and Tintoretto, many of which were donated by General John Guise (1682/1683–1765) in the eighteenth century. Guise is known to have donated some 200 artworks to the college in furtherance of its art education programming. 

Thames Valley Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen or heard anything suspicious in the immediate area of the Christ Church Picture Gallery or elsewhere on St. Aldates or High Street on the night of the theft or who might have leads regarding the artworks' handlers.  Officers can be contacted by calling the non-emergency number 101, or making a report online using the reference 43200087031.  Individuals who wish to remain anonymous can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.