17th-Century Painting Cut From Frame in Quake-Hit Church

Italy deploying soldiers to deter further looting
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2016 12:52 PM CST
17th-Century Painting Cut From Frame in Quake-Hit Church
A view of Castelluccio di Norcia, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.   (Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP)

Someone took advantage of the severe earthquakes last month in Italy to steal a 17th-century painting from a church that was badly damaged by the temblors. "Pardon in Assisi," a 1631 piece by French painter Jean Lhomme and "well-known among historians," per the AP, was taken from a church in the village of Nottoria. The thief or thieves cut the oil painting from its frame, apparently not concerned that the church could have collapsed in on them at any time. The national police announced the theft Monday. Authorities have salvaged around 200 works of art, including paintings, statues, crucifixes, urns, and more, from churches damaged in the Oct. 26 and Oct. 30 quakes.

"Our churches are destroyed and full of art works," says a local priest. "To add insult to injury ... we now have this despicable behavior." Making the art recovery effort even more difficult: torrential rains that hit the region Sunday and Monday. Artwork that has not yet been saved could be in danger from the storms, such as a 15th-century fresco in Visso's town hall: It would require a helicopter to be recovered, which could damage it, but the rain could also damage it, the Local reports. Italian soldiers are now being sent to the mountainous region near Norcia in Umbria, near the church from which the Lhomme painting was taken, to guard against looters, the Telegraph reports. (An "unrestorable" Renaissance painting damaged in a flood 50 years ago just got restored.)

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