British Outsider Artist Bryan Pearce’s Work Targeted in Cottage Heist

Bryan Pearce, White Jug & Catkins (1960).
Bryan Pearce, White Jug & Catkins (1960).
Bryan Pearce, <em>Portreath</em> (1960).

Bryan Pearce, Portreath (1960).

A thief struck a private home in the Cornwall, UK, village of Zennor, absconding with four paintings, included two canvases by famed British outsider artist Bryan Pearce (1929–2007). The owner estimates that the two Pearce paintings, Portreath and White Jug & Catkins (both 1960), are worth about £50,000 each ($77,000), based on recent sales of similar works by the artist.

The burglary, which occurred at an isolated cottage between January 16–27, may have been planned art heist. The robbers broke into the house using a ground floor window, and the cottage next door was also the victim of a forced entry at about the same time, although nothing was taken there. “It appears they may have been been targeted for these paintings and the first house may have been targeted by mistake,” local police detective Neil Harvey told the BBC.

Bryan Pearce, <em>White Jug & Catkins</em> (1960).

Bryan Pearce, White Jug & Catkins (1960).

Pearce suffered from phenylketonuria, a congenital disease affecting the brain, limiting his learning and communication abilities. His mother Mary, an amateur painter, enrolled him in the St Ives School of Art as a young man. Pearce’s brightly colored, heavily outlined works depicting the local landscape soon attracted the attention of galleries and art historians. In 2011, a harbor landscape scene titled St. Ives (All round) set the auction record for Pearce, fetching £55,250 ($87,062) at Christie’s South Kensington.

Though a police spokesman told Western Morning News that because of the somewhat childlike appearance of Pearce’s work “it is possible the thief does not know the value of what they have,” Harvey was doubtful: “Anyone who knows his painting knows he has a particular style.”

 


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