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The playful children and their cart are returning to the Toledo Museum of Art.
On Monday, November 20, the Toledo Museum and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City were notified by FBI agents that the Francisco de Goya y Lucientes painting “Children with a Cart,” 1778, had been recovered in New Jersey. After having been stolen nearly two weeks ago from an unattended transport vehicle near Stroudsburg, Penn., while en route to an exhibition scheduled to open at the Guggenheim, the painting will be returned to the Toledo Museum of Art, where it is part of the permanent collection.
According to FBI reports, the painting appears to be unharmed.
“We are ecstatic that the painting has been recovered, and we look forward to bringing the Goya home and sharing it again with our community,” Toledo Museum of Art director Don Bacigalupi said. “The FBI and law enforcement officials on this case have done an exemplary job for which we are truly thankful.”
At the time of the theft, the painting was en route from the Toledo Museum of Art to the Guggenheim, where it was scheduled to be included in the exhibition “Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth and History,” an overview of Spanish painting focusing on the key artists of the last five centuries, which is now on view.
“The success of [the exhibition] is made all the sweeter by the recovery of this treasured painting,” said Guggenheim Museum director Lisa Dennison.
Few details of the theft have been provided. The painting was reportedly in the care of a professional art transport provider when it was stolen. Insured for just over $1 million, the painting would have been virtually impossible to sell and therefore had no value on the open market, according to the museums.
The insurer of the painting had offered a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the painting’s recovery of the painting, according to the FBI’s Art Theft division in Philadelphia, Penn., which had been leading the investigation of the theft.
Depicting children at play — two of them inside a cart and another playing drums, while a fourth plays the trumpet — the oil on canvas measures 57 ¼ by 37 inches. According to notes supplied by the Toledo Museum of Art, between 1775 and 1792 Goya painted 63 tapestry cartoons or designs for the Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Barbara. On January 6, 1779, he delivered six cartoons illustrating “diversions with costumes of the present time.” This cartoon for an overdoor tapestry is number six of that group, which belongs to a series of 20 cartoons for tapestries.
The painting was acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art in 1959. In a prepared statement, the museum said that it has never before had a work of art stolen in transit, nor had a work of art lost through theft. With 15 to 20 works on loan at any time, the museum said it did not foresee any change of policy in loaning works of art to qualified museums as a result of this random incident.
The museums referred media questions to the FBI, and calls had not been returned at press time. — WD
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