She was very old, this Madonna of the Yarnwinder, painted between 1500 and 1510 by an artist you may have heard of: Leonardo da Vinci (although there are suggestions this artwork may have been painted by one of da Vinci’s students, in which case none of us has may have heard of the artist). The star of the Duke of Buccleuch’s private collection, the Madonna of the Yarnwinder had been in his family’s keeping for 200 years. Her abode: Drumlanrig Castle, Scotland.
Alas, on the 27th August 2003, this Madonna became a damsel in distress, nabbed by some opportunistic and quite brazen thieves. Like the plot from an old black and white silent film, what this damsel needed was the cavalry to come riding in to save the day! Fortunately for her, the cavalry did appear, in the form of the Scottish law enforcement agencies who didn’t give up the search. Four years later, their efforts were rewarded. The Madonna of the Yarnwinder was recovered in October 2007, sans thieves.
Four months before her recovery and thousands of miles away, another painting was stolen – and although he is A Cavalier, there is no cavalry riding in to save the day and recover him. It is up to us, the public, to stand in for the cavalry – to keep the attention on this stolen Cavalier because somewhere someone knows something. Someone knows where Frans van Mieris’s stolen painting is. —V.O.