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Theft of Paintings

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Theft of Paintings

Post by Karen on Sun 24 Apr 2011 - 15:02



The firm of Artemus Tooth and Co., of 21, Queen Victoria-street, has just met with a serious loss in the disappearance of two valuable pictures, for which rewards are offered in all the principal papers this morning, and for which the Scotland Yard officers are actively searching. Mr. Frank Bowden, the junior member of the firm, told a "Daily Mail" reporter yesterday that on Wednesday afternoon a huge tarpaulin-covered van was loaded in front of their Queen Victoria-street premises with pictures for shipment, by way of Paddington Station. The larger pictures were placed in the front of the van, and the smaller ones in the rear under the personal supervision of two members of the firm - Mr. Tooth and Mr. Bowden - who, after final instructions to the men not to stop or open the packages before arriving at their destination, got into a cab and were driven to Paddington Station, where they


of the consignment. When the van reached Paddington two exquisite pictures - one an Alma Tadema, valued at 425 pounds, the other a water colour drawing by Constable, and well worth 80 pounds - were missing. Although the boxes containing them were taken, the two flat separating boards were left on the van, as was the string with which they were fastened - the latter in a neat coil. The painting by Mr. Alma Tadema was a beautiful work of art, the subject being, "Waiting her Mistress." The principal figure is a Pompeiian slave girl waiting outside a curtained bath for her mistress to appear. The other water-colour drawing is a work of historic value, having been executed more than 100 years ago by Constable, as a birthday gift to his wife. It represents her birthplace. Mr. Bowden, when questioned, said that


has some peculiarities. Stealing a picture is like stealing a white elephant or purloining a cheque. If it cannot be disposed of promptly it becomes as valueless as a cheque on which payment has been stopped, and unless the two lost paintings are recovered almost at once the people who have them - that is, admitting that they have been stolen, and not lost in some unaccountable way - will burn them rather than let Messrs. Tooth and Co. get them back. Against this, however, Mr. Bowden said that he had just come from Scotland-yard, where Chief Inspector Swanson had told him that the famous "Duchess of Devonshire" painting, by Gainsborough, over the loss of which when it was cut from its frame there was such world-wide excitement, is known to be rolled up


and is subject to return if a sufficient sum is paid for it. What stands in the way of the recovery of this picture is, as Messrs. Agnew once informed the writer, the circumstance that if they paid the sum demanded for its return they would be liable themselves to a prosecution for compounding a felony. They have had pieces of the picture sent to them to prove the genuineness of the negotiations which it has more than once been sought to open with them; but it is highly improbable that the famous picture will ever be returned, although offers have been made to restore it through a leading firm of London solicitors. Mr. Bowden further said that America is the market for stolen pictures. A picture is of little value unless you can say who it is painted by. In this country a purloined picture would be quickly recognised, but there are so many vastly rich and little cultured people in the States that a good picture signed by a well-known name is frequently disposed of by a certain class of dealers to people in whose drawing rooms it may perhaps never be seen by anyone aware of the theft.

Source: Daily Mail, Saturday July 18, 1896, Page 5

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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