Food for the Soul: Isabella Stewart Gardner – Women & Art Series 14

Andres Zorn. Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice (1894). Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By Nina Heyn – Your Culture Scout

March 18, 1990 was the St. Patrick’s Day holiday in Boston. The streets were full of revelers, and the police had their hands full with traffic control. Two mustachioed policemen who knocked on the doors of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Fenway Street were readily admitted by two night guards when the policemen announced they were checking on some disturbance. The guards were not much in the way of guards anyway—one of them was a music school student moonlighting in the evenings as a security guard. The cops were not much in the way of cops either—as soon as they were admitted to the museum, the robbers tied up the two guards and started hacking at picture frames. By the end of that night, three of the most famous paintings in the world—Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Vermeer’s The Concert, and Manet’s Chez Tortoni—along with ten other major works of art had disappeared. To this day, the largest and most damaging art theft of the 20th century has never been solved and the paintings have never been recovered, nor has the mystery of who ordered the well-planned heist ever been revealed.

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