Emil Nolde Church Altarpiece Worth £1m Stolen In Denmark

A Church altarpiece painted  by the German / Danish artist Emil Nolde (1867-1956) has been stolen from a church in Denmark. The work of art titled, Christ at Emmaus, painted in1904, was situated in the Ølstrup Church near Ringkøbing, in western Jutland, Denmark.

The masterpiece was found to be missing by the church’s verger on 11 March, Poul Madsen a spokesperson for the Ringkøbing police, stated but it was unclear whether the artwork was taken the previous day. “Churches are unattended at night and even in the day there is often no one there” the police added. “They are places where you have a lot of time on your own,” Madsen said. There wasn’t evidence of a break-in and it is thought the robbery may have happened during the day while the church was open to everyone.

“We never thought of our church as an art museum. Everyone should be able to come inside and sit down without being surveyed by video cameras,” says Inge-Dorthe Brønden Kaasgard, the vicar. “We have always been very proud of the painting.”

Nolde was married to the daughter of the church’s pastor, in 1904, and the church commissioned him to paint the altarpiece. He was paid 340.57 krone for the painting. The work has been in the church and is now valued at $1.8m at auction.

A major Emil Nolde retrospective opened at the Städel Museum, Frankfurt, opened on 5 March. Nolde’s oeuvre has been represented in numerous special thematic exhibitions, the last retrospective to pay tribute to his work in Germany took place twenty-five years ago. Some 140 works are on view. in 1937 his works were confiscated from public collections, and 47 of his works, including 33 paintings, were subsequently shown in the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich. In 1941, he was moreover barred from the “Reichskammer der bildenden Künste” (Reich Chamber of Visual Arts) and prohibited from practising his profession. Between 1938 and 1945 he executed the Unpainted Pictures workgroup, consisting of oil paintings after his own watercolours. Following World War II he received numerous distinctions, for example an award for his graphic work at the XXVth Venice Biennale. Nolde died in 1956 at the age of eighty-eight.

The Nolde exhibition at the Städel Museum Frankfurt From 5 March to 15 June 2014

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