The recent theft of an 18th-century Venice scene by a painter whose works have sold for millions recently, when the important work was ripped from its frame in a daring heist from its university location, the painting was attributed by police to the 18th century Italian master Francesco Guardi (1712-1793).
But now it seems that the daring heist was in vein, as the work has turned out to be an imitation by an unknown artist, the Globe and Mail reports. The Trinity painting, a 36-by-44-centimetre oil on canvas, unsigned and undated, was removed from its frame in a private dining room at the college between the evening of Feb. 8 and the morning of Feb. 10.
The small painting has been in the college’s permanent collection for a number of decades, but Trinity has no record of when it was acquired or from whom. “Our records describe it as 18th century, ‘after Guardi,’” Sylvia Lassam, Rolph-Bell archivist at Trinity College, told The Globe and Mail in an e-mail this week. “Several appraisers, most recently in 2012, have ratified this attribution.”
Evidently, the officers called to the scene misunderstood the correct description of the artwork. Francesco Guardi’s painting style is said to have influenced the impressionist movement, and the artist’s original work currently fetch million pound prices at international auctions.
The two other paintings stolen from the campus, Morning at Peggy’s Grove by William E. deGarthe, and Credit River by the Canadian-Chinese artist Yee Bon are still missing. According to a press release, the university is cooperating with the investigation.