Guercino Masterpiece Stolen from Italian Church

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A very large painting by Guercino has been stolen from San Vincenzo church in Modena, Italy. The 1639 painting measures more than 9 feet tall and 6 feet wide, and depicts Mary accompanied by John the Evangelist and Saint Gregory. According to Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, it is worth between 5–6 million ($6.7–8 million). The work was last seen around mid-day on August 10, a member of the church told the AFP.

“It’s an altarpiece with a magnificently dressed Saint Gregory,” Sgarbi told the AFP, “a monumental work from the first phase of the artist’s mature period.”

The mayor of Modena, Gian Carlo Muzzarelli, has launched an investigation to recover the large painting as quickly as possible. “This crime affects the entire city,” he said.

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Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, who lived between 1591 and 1666, earned the nickname “Il Guercino” (Italian for “the squinter”) because he was cross-eyed. He was one of Italy’s foremost Baroque painters and spent most of his life in Bologna, save for a very productive two-year stint in Rome (1621–23) when he received many commissions from Pope Gregory XV. In addition to his classical style, Guercino was renowned for his speed. He produced an astonishing 106 church altarpiece paintings during his lifetime, among which the work stolen from San Vincenzo was a standout.

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