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What many do not know: Painter Peter Paul Rubens was born in the university town of Siegen in North Rhine-Westphalia, so Rubens is German. Rubens is considered the main master of the Flemish Baroque. He died in Antwerp on May 30, 1640. The artwork “The Three Graces” was stolen from the Dulwich Picture Gallery on December 31, 1966 along with seven other artworks. A little while later it reappeared.
Rubens spent his childhood in Antwerp and should become a lawyer according to his father's will. However, he turned to painting and was a student of Adam van Noort, Tobias Verhaecht and Otto van Veen. At the beginning of 1600 he traveled to Italy and Spain. When he returned to Antwerp eight years later, he was working in his own workshop. Many of the paintings were commissioned by Maria de Medici. On May 30, 1640, he died of gout in Antwerp at the age of 63.
The oil painting “The Three Graces” has the dimensions 182 x 220.5 cm and was painted on wood. The exact date of origin is not known. Researchers assume that it was created between 1635 and 1639. Rubens, like many other painters, used motifs from Greek mythology in his creative period. The three graces are also known as motifs from Sandro Botticelli, Antonia Canova and Raphael. In Greek mythology, they are goddesses of grace, also called charites. Their names are Euphrosyne (joyfulness), Thalia (joy of celebration) and Aglaia (the brilliant). Another well-known work of art with the motif of the three graces is by Raffael and was created in 1503 - 1505. It hangs in the Musée Condé in the northern French city of Chantilly.
During the Spanish Civil War between July 1936 and April 1939, Ruben's work of art was brought to Geneva from the Madrid Museo del Prado with other masterpieces for security. Jacques Jaujard, who was then responsible for the visual arts in France, was responsible for this action.
On December 31, 1966, thieves entered the Dulwich Picture Gallery by drilling and removing a small door measuring approximately 30 x 60 cm from the outside. This circumvented the alarm system, which was only activated at the entrances and exits. Because of the diameter of this small opening, only small or frameless paintings could be stolen, including Rembrandt's "Young Girl at the Window" from 1645 and Rembrandt's "Jacob de Gheyn III". Other Rubens paintings were also stolen: “Three Women with a Cornucopia” and “St. Barbara ”. The stolen works of art at this time had a total value of at least £ 7m. Almost 50 years later, Rembrandt's “Jacob de Gheyn III” alone has a value of around 13 million euros. The museum management only offered a reward of £ 1,000 for the restoration of the paintings.
A few days later, a trail to the thieves was found under the guidance of detective superintendent Charles Hewett. Unemployed ambulance driver Michael Hall was the only thief arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.
Ruben's artwork has returned to the Museo del Prado from the Dulwich Picture Gallery after the art robbery in 1966.