WHEN the Ashmolean Museum’s only Cézanne was stolen in a daring rooftop raid, it was one of the worst days of director Christopher Brown’s life.
The £3m oil painting Auvers-sur-Oise, by the French impressionist, was stolen from the Beaumont Street museum in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 1999. It has not been recovered.
Flashback to when the museum had a Cézanne stolen
Police discovered burglars had got in through the glass roof and the painting has never been recovered, but other stunning works of art by Paul Cézanne are now on their way to the Ashmolean.
The museum is opening its 2014 exhibitions programme with Cézanne and the Modern, the first European display of the Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art.
The “landmark” exhibition features 50 works by 19 artists, including a group of paintings and watercolours by Cézanne.
Ashmolean Museum spokeswoman Claire Parris said Prof Brown once referred to the break-in as one of the worst days of his life.
She added: “It is such a sad moment in the Ashmolean’s history – and the exhibition is a really great coup for the museum – it’s going to be terrific.
It will be the first time this collection has ever been shown in Europe, so we’re all really looking forward to it.”
At the heart of the Pearlman Collection are 24 works by Cézanne, which will go on display from Thursday, March 13 until June.
The collection, which has been on long-term loan to the Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey in the United States since the 1970s, spans the whole of Cézanne’s career until shortly before his death in 1906.
Prof Brown CBE, director of the Ashmolean, who is retiring in September, said: “The Ashmolean is very honoured to be the first European venue to show the world-renowned Pearlman Collection.”
Prof Brown CBE, director of the Ashmolean
Among the Cézanne paintings featured are Still Life with Carafe, Bottle and Fruit, created shortly before the artist’s death.
New York City businessman Henry Pearlman began gathering the masterpieces in 1945 and in the following 30 years until his death was an avid collector.
After his death in 1974, the collection was managed by his wife, Rose Pearlman. The stolen painting measured 16in by 22in and was the only artwork taken, prompting the theory that it was taken to order to become part of a private collection.
The artwork, produced between 1879 and 1882, captured a scene from the French village where Cézanne once lived and worked.