San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Painting Stolen from National Museum

A hole was left in the art collection at the NationalMuseum in San José after a 19th century piece called “Casa de Campo” by German artist Emilio Span was stolen, according to a statement from the museum.

The piece measures 20 centimeters tall by 25 centimeters wide and was surrounded by a dark gold frame. As its name implies, it depicts a house in a natural setting. It was on display alongside two other pieces: “La Niña,” by Francisco Zúñiga, and “Paisaje Rural,” by Fausto Pacheco.

The painting has been missing since July 20, but its disappearance was not made public until the daily La Nación published an article about it last Friday.

The museum has no idea how the painting, worth $8,000, could have disappeared, the daily reported.Museum guard Enrique Alvarado said he noticed it was missing on July 20 in the afternoon, after administrative workers had left, and he did not report this anomaly until the following Tuesday.

Museum authorities then asked the guard to go, unaccompanied, to the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) to file a report. The report he filed did not include the name of the painting or the artist who produced it.

OIJ is investigating the case “very seriously because the painting has patrimonial value … despite the way the case has been treated – as if it were a box of cookies or a refrigerator that was stolen,” OIJ press chief Francisco Ruiz told La Nación.

The museum is asking anyone with information on the painting’s disappearance to call 221-4429 or 291-3517. Officials have stepped up security at the museum by prohibiting guests from entering with large bags, the statement said.

About 25 of Emilio Span’s paintings are housed at the NationalMuseum. The artist was born in January 1869 in Germany, and arrived to Costa Rica in 1906 to study art. He completed his most known works during the 1930s, using a realist style with great detail.

Most of his works are of flowers, portraits and landscapes. He was inspired by Costa Rica’s nature to paint a large quantity of orchids. He died here in 1944.


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