If the name of this article didn’t trigger your click, than nothing will. But it is true- there is an exhibition of stolen paintings being organized in Croatia. Of course, since titular works of art have been nicked, their replicas will be presented to curious audiences. This actually includes a genuine art of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. And yes, the background of this whole project is very interesting.
The tale begins in early 19th century, when influential rulers of Odescalchi family decided to move their artistic collections into a luxurious palace in Croatian Town of Ilok. The exhibits were quite precious and were kept safe up to World War II. At the end of this global conflict, soldiers of newly established Yugoslav Army infiltrated the palace and moved the exhibits to museums of Belgrade and Novi Sad.
The collection was partly returned a decade later, but conditions of the exhibiting place were very unsafe. This prompted criminal elements to periodically steal the paintings, causing massive cultural damage.
Among the stolen properties were works of Strupmayer and Bo(nu)carth, but the biggest loss happened when painting ‘Flowers in a Vase’, authored by French master Auguste Renoir, disappeared in 1988. The police managed to discover how the thefts happened, but were unable to track the stolen materials. Even with the assistance of international anti-crime organizations, the paintings are still not founded. Needless to say, their total value is exceptionally high.
One of the reasons for this state lies in fact that these paintings have not been visually documented in any way. Rarely photographed or imprinted in literature, the precise compositions of these works is unknown even to experts of artistic fields. But thanks to some advances and thorough browsing of archives, we are now able to pinpoint the exact look of the missing paintings. This allows making a gallery of their replicas.
In order to educate population about this topic, a ‘special’ exhibition of stolen paintings will be organized in Croatia. A part of Europe for Culture project, it will open for audiences on May 18th in Ilok Town Museum. Later, the ‘lost’ exhibits will transfer to Zagreb’s Mimara Museum. In case you can’t attend, a virtual walk through exhibition will be available through free Google Play application.
The exhibition is authored by Andrea Rimpf and Branka Sulc. Who knows, maybe it will lead to successful tracking of originals, which will return to their true owners- the citizens of Ilok.
Photo: Cropix Archives