Thieves stole a painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh early on Monday from the Netherlands’ Singer Laren Museum, which is currently closed to the public because of the coronavirus.
The painting “Lentetuin”, or “Spring Garden,” which dates back to 1884 and depicts the garden of the rectory at Nuenen, had been on loan from the Groninger Museum.
“I feel incredibly angry and now I’m starting to feel sadder too,” Jan Rudolph de Lorm, director of the Singer Laren Museum, told Reuters in an interview.
He appealed to those who had taken the painting to treat it with care “so that sooner or later it can be shown to the public unharmed”.
Van Gogh, who struggled with mental illness throughout his life, was staying with his parents when he painted “Spring Garden”. His father worked as a minister in Nuenen.
De Lorm described the painting, which depicts a woman in a garden with red-flowered bushes and with a church in the background, as “an image of silence, of reflection and of tranquility, which undoubtedly offered him comfort and inspiration”.
“Through him, it gave us and our audience the same emotion,” de Lorm added.
The museum, located in the town of Laren to the east of Amsterdam, has appealed for the swift return of the painting, which has been added to Interpol’s list of stolen artworks.
In a statement, police said the thieves had entered the museum by breaking its glass doors at around 3.15 a.m. (0115 GMT). “The culprits were gone by the time police responded to the alarm,” the statement said.
Investigators are searching for security footage and witnesses, and are examining forensic evidence, it added.
Dutch museums have been closed because of the coronavirus outbreak since March 12.