Four works of art that had been stolen from the National Library of Rio de Janeiro in 2004 were returned to its collection this week. The pieces—three drawings by Franz Keller-Leuzinger and one lithography work by Buvelot & Moreau were in the collection of Itaú Cultural, of private bank Itaú, and were identified by experts as belonging to the library.
In April this year, the National Library and Itaú Cultural signed a joint return agreement under suspicions that part of the collection purchased by Itaú from a collector was stolen.
A total of 102 works in the bank collection were submitted to analysis under the agreement. Of these, some were reported as inconclusive, some as manipulated, washed, or recolored, and only 32 were identified as not belonging to the National Library.
According to the National Library, the three drawings by Keller-Leuzinger (“Fishing scene after storm,” “Manaus,” and “Mojo River”) were easily identified because they are exclusive. Also, the institution has a large number of documents attesting their acquisition.
The work of Buvelot & Moreau, in turn, was altered. The image is believe to have been monochromatic, but scraped and colored a few years ago with colored pencils, which were not available in the 19th century. Nonetheless, specialists were able to use a special light to identify the number of the safe where it was stored in the library.
*Trainee under the supervision of Vitor Abdala