Isaak Levitan Paintings Stolen from Resort-Town Museum

Five paintings by 19th century landscape painter Isaak Levitan have been stolen from the Levitan House Museum in Plyos, a picturesque and elite resort town on the Volga River about 230 miles northwest of Moscow where the painter lived and worked.

According to a police statement, the intruders entered the house museum around 3:00 a.m. on the morning of August 5. They lifted five of Levitan’s paintings from the exhibition hall.

Levitan was one of the most significant and celebrated Russian landscape artists. Fond of naturalistic and poetic depictions of forests and countrysides, Levitan was known for introducing the genre of the “mood landscape.” His body of work includes some 1,000 paintings, drawings, and sketches, most of which are housed at Moskow’s State Tretyakov Gallery.

“Thieves penetrated into the museum through a window last night and stole five of Levitan’s paintings, including Roses, A Quiet Pool, and A Quiet River,” Svetlana Shmelyova, head of the regional government’s Culture and Cultural Heritage Department, told Interfax-Ukraine. Shmelyova said the paintings were worth 77 million rubles, or roughly $2 million.

Opened in 1972, the Levitan house museum in Plyos is the artist’s only “house-museum” in Russia. Levitan first visited Plyos, also known as the Pearl of the Volga, in 1888. He allegedly moved to the dacha when money from his painting began coming in. While there, he completed 23 paintings and about 200 drawings, studies, and sketches. The town, with its riverbank dotted with small boats and yachts, has in recent years become Moscow’s answer to the Hamptons for the city’s rich and famous and is a favorite summer spot of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana.

The police have ascertained that two people were responsible for the theft, but no arrests have yet been made.

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