OSLO — Police have recovered a 450-year-old Renaissance painting, days after it was stolen from a church in southern Norway, and detained a suspect on preliminary charges of theft, an inspector said Wednesday

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Norwegian police detain suspect in theft of Renaissance painting

OSLO — Police have recovered a 450-year-old Renaissance painting, days after it was stolen from a church in southern Norway, and detained a suspect on preliminary charges of theft, an inspector said Wednesday.

The painting “Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me” – created around 1540 by Lucas Cranach the Elder – was snatched before dawn Sunday from the Lutheran Church in the town of Larvik, where it is believed to have hung for about 330 years.

The painting was found in a van in southeastern Norway and is being examined by forensic experts, police said.

Police arrested a man in his 50s on preliminary charges of theft, but they did not identify him by name.

“It is with great pleasure that we can announce that the painting has been found,” Larvik police inspector Magnar Pedersen said at a news conference.

Cranach lived from 1472 until 1553, and is considered an important German Renaissance painter.


Police recover painting by German 15th century master (Roundup)
Mar 11, 2009, 18:20 GMT

Oslo – Norwegian police said Wednesday they have recovered a painting by German master Lucas Cranach, the elder, stolen over the weekend.

The announcement was made hours after police said they had arrested a man on suspicion of involvement in the theft.

Initial inspection suggested the actual painting was not damaged even though there was some damage to the frame, police spokesman Magne Pedersen told public broadcaster NRK.

Pedersen said the investigation was ongoing and declined to offer details of what role the suspect had in connection with the theft.

According to some estimates the painting was worth at least 15 million kroner (2.1 million dollars).

The theft has sparked a debate on the need to improve security of valuable art in churches and other public buildings.

A Norwegian insurance company Tuesday posted a reward worth 500,000 kroner for information securing the safe return of the painting.

The over 400-year-old painting was stolen from Larvik Church, some 105 kilometres southwest of Oslo. The congregation has owned it for over 300 years.

Cranach (1472-1553) was a German Renaissance painter who made several portraits of German theologian and church reformer Martin Luther, and also illustrated the Bible that Luther translated into German.


Norway police find Cranach painting, hold suspect
Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:22pm EDT
OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian police have recovered a stolen 16th century painting by the German Renaissance master Lucas Cranach the Elder and arrested one man, police said on Wednesday.

The painting, estimated by experts to be worth $2 million to $3 million, was stolen in the early hours of Sunday from a church at Larvik, south of Oslo.

Police inspector Magnar Pedersen told NRK television news the painting appeared to be undamaged except for the frame, but experts had not yet examined it.

Police detained a man in his 50s at his home in Larvik and found the painting stashed in a truck in a neighboring county, but they declined to give further details. Pedersen said more arrests could be made.

The painting, “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” shows Christ in a blue robe holding two infants in his lap and surrounded by several women with small children and a few men.

It had hung in the Larvik church since it was built in 1677.

Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) ranks among the most significant German Renaissance painters, along with masters such as Albrecht Durer.

In 2004, two masked men walked into the Munch Museum in Oslo and stole Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” from the wall in front of terrified tourists. That painting was recovered two years later.

In 1994, thieves climbed a ladder and entered the National Gallery through a window to steal a different version of “The Scream,” one of the most reproduced pictures in the world. It was later recovered by police posing as buyers.

(Reporting by John Acher; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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