Friday, 16 December 2016

Lost - Please Call

With the benefit of hindsight, I should have taken a picture of it - my favourite painting that is. It is gone now and I doubt I will ever see it again. This snap is all I have left:

Sadly, it doesn't even begin to do the picture justice. It had a mystery about it. Its subject was extremely simple - just a table, set ready for a meal. There was a kind of moonlit sheen on the plates that was almost supernatural. The scene might have suggested a Marie Celeste scenario, except that it radiated quietness and calm.

It was strangely soothing.

I use the past tense, because I doubt the painting even exists now. The last time I saw it was on a black and white Blair-Witch-Project-style-recording. This was extracted from the machine that was thoughtfully supplied by my husband's company in order to give us front-seat viewing of any robberies from the house that comes with my husband's job. Sadly, the company didn't choose to also provide security to deter possible robberies. When we first arrived, it was explained to me that there was no need, as a man two doors down the street employs guards and, obviously, they'd be sure to look out for us as well.

Needless to say, the night we were robbed those guards were not looking out for us as well. Why on earth would they be?

So my last sight of my favourite painting is of it being carried out of the house and over the back fence by a man with a stocking over his face. 

The painting was very light, as it was unframed - people often told us we should frame it but we didn't think it needed one. It was oil on canvas and we never knew who painted it, or when it was painted (probably late 19th or early 20th century, but that is only a guess.)

Because of its unframed, unsigned, unclassifiable condition, I suspect that the man with the stocking face will have found that none of the people he tried to offload it on wanted our beloved painting. That assumes it even survived the rough way he was holding it as he scrambled over the back fence. 

Even if he didn't tear the canvas in his getaway, I fear the painting probably got ripped, angrily and deliberately, by the burglar, furious that he couldn't get a decent - or perhaps any - price for it, as it was such an unknown quantity. 

I think of this lovely thing lying among potato peelings and tea leaves and catfood cans in some heap of rubbish somewhere in Belgium, the rain falling on what is left of its charm. What a waste, an object that gave so much pleasure wrecked for no purpose. 

I miss it like a friend.


  1. I am sorry that you lost the picture.

    I find it odd that anyone should steal art that is not notoriously valuable. Our neighborhood has plenty of burglaries, but the burglars take jewelry, electronics, cash, sometimes alcohol. If they take paintings, I haven't heard. Are there pawnshops in Belgium? I can almost imagine someone taking a painting to one and asking for a loan with it as security--it has been in his family for a hundred years, etc.

    During a long-ago summer spent working on a weekly paper, I learned that the Denver police stations kept two ledgers, one for burglaries and one for everything else. Until then, I had never thought about how common the crime is.

    1. I haven't seen any pawnshops, but I have spent a lot of time in flea markets since the robbery. I believe that robbery rates would drop if drug taking were decriminalised.The huge amounts spent on policing and incarceration could be spent on deterrent education then. There will always be those who choose to take drugs but at least it wouldn't be a choice that engendered criminal profits et cetera. But that is a whole other hobby horse. Plus the thieves who came here may have had some peculiar motives I might tell you about one day