Iowa Alumni Magazine | April 2015 | Features

Stolen Treasures

By Linzee Kull McCray & Howe Kathryn

The theft of 13 artworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 25 years ago this spring rocked the art world to its core. "It remains a tremendous frustration to all art lovers and certainly one of the saddest and most notorious episodes in the history of Dutch art," says Julie Hochstrasser, an associate professor at the UI School of Art and Art History who specializes in 17th century Dutch painting.

Among the missing masterpieces are defining works from Rembrandt and—most devastating to Hochstrasser—one of the few known works of Johannes Vermeer. Both artists represented the pinnacle of Dutch painting's golden age.

Says Hochstrasser, "I still fervently hope that these paintings will yet resurface unscathed, to return to their rightful place in the Gardner, where they once again belong to all the world."

PHOTOS COURTESY ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER MUSEUM Vermeer The Concert Jan Vermeer, The Concert, 1658-1660 Oil on canvas, 72.5 x 64.7 cm

Vermeer The Concert
Manet, Chez Tortoni, 1878-1880 Oil on canvas, 26 x 34 cm
Vermeer The ConcertGovaert Flinck, Landscape with an Obelisk, 1638 Oil on oak panel, 54.5 x 71 cm
Vermeer The Concert Edgar Degas, La Sortie du Pesage Pencil and watercolor on paper 10 x 16 cm
Vermeer The Concert Rembrandt, Self-Portrait, ca. 1634 Etching, 1 3/4 x 2 in.
Vermeer The Concert Rembrandt, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1633 Oil on canvas, 161.7 x 129.8 cm


  • Rembrandt, A Lady and Gentleman in Black, 1633
  • Edgar Degas, Three Mounted Jockeys
  • Edgar Degas, Cortege aux Environs de Florence
  • Edgar Degas, Program for an artistic soiree, 1884
  • Edgar Degas, Program for an artistic soiree, 1884 (less-completed version)
  • Bronze finial in the form of an eagle, French, 1813-14
  • Chinese bronze beaker, Shang Dynasty, 1200-1100 B.C.