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London, March 31, 2020
A painting by Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art, has been stolen from a musuem at Laren in The Netherlands.
The painting was on loan from the Groninger Museum for a temporary exhibition at the Singer Museum which is dedicated to preserving the collection of American couple William and Anna Singer.
It was on display as part of the museum’s exhibition "Mirror of the Soul – From Toorop to Mondrian".
"The Groninger Museum has been informed that one of its loans has been stolen from the museum Singer Laren. It concerns Vincent van Gogh’s The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring," the Groninger Museum said in a brief statement.
"The police have confirmed this news this afternoon during a press conference in Laren," it said.
The 1884 work, oil on paper on panel (marouflage), is the only painting by Van Gogh in the Groninger Museum’s collection.
"The Groninger Museum is shocked by the news. Because of the police investigation, it must decline further comment on the matter," the statement added.
The burglary took place in the early hours of Monday, March 30, at a time when the gallery was closed to the public as part of the preventive measures taken in the country to contain the spead of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are deeply shocked, angry and saddened," said museum director Jan Rudolph de Lorm. "A magnificent and poignant painting by one of our greatest artists has been taken from the community. It is terrible for the Groninger Museum and for Singer Laren, but above all for every one of us. Art exists to be shared, to enjoy, to inspire and offer comfort, particularly in times such as these. Art is vital to our culture."
"Security at Singer Laren complies with protocol. It has been coordinated with the insurance experts, with whom Singer Laren is currently in close consultation," said Evert van Os, managing director.
An investigation has been launched, involving experts from several fields, including forensic investigators, detectives and members of the national crime squad specialised in art theft, the Singer Museum added.
In 1883 and 1884, Van Gogh was living with his parents in Nuenen, where his father was a pastor at the local parish.
The Dutch artist immortalised in the stolen canvas the garden of the vicarage, a place that offered him the peace and inspiration he needed, as he described in his letters.
Dutch authorities, along with a team of forensics, detectives and stolen art experts, have launched a criminal investigation to try to locate the thieves and bring the painting back to its owners, police said in a statement.
(With inputs from IANS)