Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, part III – The Theft

We start at the Macknight Room, the only one in the Museum to be named after a contemporary artist. Dodge Macknight’s watercolours may be decorating all four walls but, today, let us focus on my favourite object adorning the room – a desk with two side cabinets (scrivania con due mobili da appoggio); second half of the 18th century.Next, a passage by Worthington Street Entrance –

When Isabella Stewart Gardner built her museum, she made the top floor her residence and established a personal entrance to the building on Worthington Street (today Palace Road). In the spring of 2017 this space was restored to recreate her private foyer. Imagine Gardner shaking off her umbrella and enjoying artworks recently reinstalled as they were in her own time! 

But the Museum’ eclectic collection is not only renowned for its beauty; twenty-eight years ago, it also became the focus of the world’s largest heist. In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered the Gardner Museum, tied up the guards and stole 13 works of art. The entire operation took 81 minutes and the works have never been recovered. The Museum, however, remains optimistic and offers $10 million for any information leading to the stolen art.

This is the Dutch Room, on the second floor.  Six works of art were stolen from here, including a Rembrandt self-portrait; one of his finest narrative paintings, A Lady and Gentleman in Black; and his only seascape, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee; as well as Johannes Vermeer’s The Concert.

Empty frames remain in their original position, awaiting for the art to return.

This is where Vermeer’s painting The Concert stood. One of only 36 by Vermeer in existence, this is the most valuable stolen painting—and perhaps the most valuable stolen object—in the world.

Isabella Gardner purchased The Concert in 1892 at auction in Paris. 

The Concert (c. 1664)
Johannes Vermeer
Oil on Canvas 

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

May 4th, 2017


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