Over 60 Years Later, Stolen Renoir Returns to Baltimore Museum of Art
It's been a long road back, but Pierre-August Renoir's On the Shore of the Seine (Paysage Bord du Seine) (circa 1879), stolen in 1951, is finally returning to Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), reports the Washington Post. The small, five-and-a-half by nine inch oil painting turned up at auction in 2012, after a woman claimed to have purchased it at a flea market for $7.
The BMA had acquired the painting from local collector Saidie A. May when she died in 1951, but the museum didn't even realize that the work was missing until a Washington Post reporter dug through some old records. After the original police report was rediscovered, the auction was cancelled, and the case went to trial.
In January, a Virginia judge ruled that the museum was the painting's rightful owner (see report from McClatchy DC). Although the museum received a $2,500 insurance payment from the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company in 1951, the company expressed no interest in any compensation for the piece.
(If you're having trouble following the timeline in all this, the museum has you covered with this helpful PDF.)
Now, the BMA is exhibiting the painting, rumored to have been painted on a linen napkin for Renoir's mistress as the two dined at a cafe along the Seine river, for the first time in over 62 years. "The Renoir Returns" will be on view March 30–July 20 and will include an additional 20 artworks donated to the BMA by May. A members-only preview of the show starts today.