Independent Lens: Stolen - an early look
Stolen, a 2006 documentary by Rebecca Dreyfus and Susannah Ludwig, follows a group of men and women, most notably the late art detective Harold Smith, as they try to recover paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston in 1990. Thirteen paintings were taken from the museum by thieves disguised as policemen, including Rembrandt's The Sea of Galilee and Vermeer's The Concert. None of the paintings were ever recovered.
The film focuses a lot of its attention on Vermeer's paintings, of which only thirty-five still remain. Those not familiar with the work of Johannes Vermeer may still recognize one of his more famous works, Girl with a Pearl Earring (picture on the right) which was not stolen.
Stolen is both a detective story and a love letter to classic art: as Smith delves deeper into the case, he begins to make connections with members of Boston's criminal underground and learns that the conspiracy to steal the paintings may even connect to the Irish Republican Army. At the same time, the documentary is peppered with statements from museum curators, art historians and authors who offer a better understanding of the importance of these paintings, and what was truly lost when they were taken from the museum.
Stolen will be showcased on PBS' Independent Lens series on March 20 at 10 p.m.