Thames Valley Police said burglars broke into the Christ Church College gallery at around 11pm on Saturday, March 14. The gallery will now remain closed until further notice.
A Boy Drinking, painted by a precocious Carracci around the age of 20, is a key work of naturalism that helped usher in the Baroque in Italy. It depicts a youth drinking the last drops of wine from his glass - a deliberately awkward pose that involves the distortion and refraction of light passing through glass. Another version of the picture dated to c.1582-83 was sold by Sotheby’s in 1994 and is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The picture at Christ College, dated to c.1580, formed part of the original General John Guise (c.1682-1765) bequest - the 200-plus paintings and almost 2000 drawings given to Christ Church by a former student in 1765. The purpose-built gallery to display the Guise collection and other acquisitions was opened in 1968.
Also stolen in the Saturday night raid was an oil sketch of a soldier on horseback by Antony Van Dyck c.1616 and Salvator Rosa’s landscape A Rocky Coast with Soldiers Studying a Plan from the late 1640s.
Thames Valley Police has issued a plea for information. Call 101, or make a report online using the reference 43200087031, or anonymously through Crimestoppers.