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Lost Art

A Renoir piece stolen from the BMA in 1951 finally returns home.

If only the canvas of Renoir’s “On the Shore of the Seine” could talk.

tiny 5 1/2-by-9-inch painting has been on quite a journey since being
loaned to The Baltimore Museum of Art by collector Saidie Adler May in

“It’s small, but packs quite a punch with color and
technique,” says Katy Rothkopf, the BMA’s senior curator of European
painting and sculpture. Perhaps this is what caused thieves to steal the
painting in November 1951, spawning a 60-year journey that landed it in
a box of miscellaneous items at a West Virginia flea market and then
the Potomack Company auction house in Alexandria, VA, in 2012.

auction house contacted the BMA and—once they learned the painting was
stolen—got the FBI involved. In January, the U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Virginia awarded ownership of the painting back to
the museum.

This month, the BMA celebrates its return. “We’ll
include it in a small exhibit on Saidie Adler May in two galleries,”
Rothkoph says. “We don’t currently have any Renoir landscapes from this
period—where he was his most revolutionary. We can’t wait to get it