A PAINTING in the possession of an antiques dealer in Royal Wootton Bassett was stolen from an art gallery decades ago.

Old Bank Antiques boss Jon White hopes to find the original owner of the valuable painting by French artist Eugene Boudin which thieves took from an art gallery in May 1990.

A Wiltshire woman brought the painting to Jon along with other items from her late father's estate which she wanted to sell.

Her dad had bought the Trouville - Scene de Plage piece from a London flea market several years ago and had no idea it was stolen goods.

Jon White said: "The signed picture looked special and I felt it was worth doing some research on it,.

“Clearly we wanted to offer the customer a fair price so needed to spend some time finding out a little more about it and the artist who created it.”

He started his research by contacting the Richard Green Gallery in Mayfair which was the last legitimate business known to have handled the painting.

He added: “It was here that I was told that this painting had been subject to an insurance claim and I needed to seek further details."

Jon then contacted the Art Loss Register, the world’s largest private database of stolen art, antiques and collectibles. If a painting is registered as stolen and this is not resolved satisfactorily, then a ‘block’ is put upon the work which cannot then be re-sold.

This revealed that on May 8 1990, someone walked in off the street into a Mayfair gallery and walked out with this painting which as not been seen since.

An insurance claim was made and a reward for £40,000 was put up in June 1990, though it’s unclear if that reward was ever claimed. Today the Art Loss Register has been unable to trace the company which paid out on that insurance claim.

Jon added: “It’s clear our customer’s father bought this picture in good faith. I’m appealing to anyone who can help to trace the previous legitimate owner, or trace the insurance company so that we can return the painting and resolve this for all concerned."

The painting is typical of Eugene Boudin's work as he specialised in oil paintings of landscapes, specially harbours and beaches of Northern France.

Boudin was born in Honfleur, brought up around Le Havre and then later studied at the Louvre. He became well known for his small landscape paintings in oils and also worked alongside Claude-Oscar Monet later in his career. In the past, examples of his work have sold for upwards of £1 million though the market has softened in recent years.

Anyone with information about the stolen painting and its mystery owner should email Jon on hello@oldbankantiques.co.uk

Old Bank Antiques is a small antiques centre selling portable antiques including jewellery, silver flatware, coins, toys and collectibles. The business will expand to make an auction house next door which, it’s hoped will open for its first sale in mid 2022.