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July 22, 2015

Stolen painting found after 19 years

Jan Preisler masterpiece is valued at up to 8 million Kč

Police in Prague have made a breakthrough in an almost two-decade-old case of art theft with the recovery of a painting called “Koupání” (Bathing) by Jan Preisler.

Art expects give the current value of the work at up to 8 million Kč, according to the Czech Police.

While police have recovered the painting, they are still looking for the person or persons who stole it, according to a joint statement from Prague Police spokesman Tomáš Hulan and Pardubice Regional Police spokesman Jiří Tesař.

The painting was stolen in 1996 from an exhibition at Galerie Hlinsko in the Pardubice region of Central Bohemia.

The painting was on loan from the National Gallery in Prague, which owns it. The National Galley reportedly is now in possession of the painting and has it secured in a depository.

There was a widespread search when the painting was first reported stolen, and the image was entered into a database of stolen art. The search also took place across Europe, as it could not be ruled out that the painting has been taken across the border.

Recently, information surfaced that the painting was being offered for sale. Before the sale could take place, police specialized in art theft intervened and recovered the work.

Preisler had a relatively short career. He was born in 1872 and died in Prague of pneumonia in 1918. In 1903, he stated teaching nude drawing at the Academy of Fine Arts and was a professor from 1913 until his death.

His influences included Alfons Mucha, Vojtěch Preissig and, later, Paul Gauguin. He was among the artists to provide decoration for the Municipal House in Prague. He also helped decorate Hotel Central on Hybernska Street.

His early work was in the neo-Romantic style, but he is also associated with Art Nouveau and the symbolism movement.

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