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Four Paintings at Art Museum Damaged

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Times Staff Writer

Four paintings on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art were damaged this week and removed from public view. But officials declined to explain how the damage, which they characterized as minor, occurred.

Damaged were the paintings “L’Allegro,” by the 19th-Century American artist Thomas Cole; “Still Life” by Carlsen, another 19th-Century American artist; “Portrait of Cardinal Roberto Ubaldini” by Guido Reni, a 17th-Century Italian artist, and “Capricco Piazzo San Marco” by Canaletto, an 18th-Century Italian artist.

Pamela Jenkinson, the museum’s public information director, said the paintings were somehow damaged while on public view Tuesday morning. But she declined to say how, citing an investigation being conducted by museum security personnel.

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Jenkinson said the paintings are being repaired by the museum’s conservation staff and “will be returning to galleries shortly.”

A caller to The Times had described the paintings as having been “slashed.” But Jenkinson said, “slashed is very, very extreme for what actually occurred.”

Asked if it would be more accurate to describe the paintings as having been scratched, she said yes. Asked what sort of instrument had been used to inflict the scratches, she replied, “I cannot tell you the kind of instrument.”

“The paintings themselves were not damaged,” she said, “just the varnish that painters from the beginning of time have put on their canvasses after finishing. . . . I really can’t emphasize enough that it was minor, superficial damage that occurred.”

The paintings, part of the museum’s permanent collection, were on display in four separate rooms, Jenkinson said.

She declined to say whether authorities believe the damage was done by members of the museum staff or the public.

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