On Monday morning, an alarm went off at the Singer Laren museum in the Netherlands. When guards rushed over to check what had tripped it, they discovered that something terrible had happened: a prized painting by Vincent van Gogh was missing.
The Associated Press reports that a thief or thieves have made off with the Dutch Post-Impressionist’s 1884 painting The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, which had been on loan to the Singer Laren from the Groninger Museum voor Stad en Lande in the Netherlands. Forensics specialists and experts are currently investigating the theft, which took place while the museum was temporarily closed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Exactly how the work was removed is still unclear, though local police said that whoever stole the work had to smash a glass door to gain access to the museum.
Jan Rudolph de Lorm, the Singer Laren’s director, told AP, “It is very bad for the Groninger Museum, it is very bad for the Singer, but it is terrible for us all because art exists to be seen and shared by us, the community, to enjoy to draw inspiration from and to draw comfort from, especially in these difficult times.”
While the work’s value was not immediately announced by the Singer Laren or the Groninger Museum, the van Gogh painting is a valuable one made early in the artist’s career prior to his artistic breakthrough two years later in France. Parsonage Garden, which shows a brushy figure standing in a garden, with a church in the background, was made during a brief period when van Gogh lived in the Dutch city of Nuenen, where the artist’s father served as a pastor in a parish.