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Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
Queen admires most stolen painting
queen
The Queen admires children's paintings of her great, great grandmother
The world's most stolen painting was on show as the Queen opened the refurbished Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London on Thursday.

Rembrandt's pocket-sized Portrait of Jacob III de Cheyn, which has been stolen and recovered four times, is now closely guarded by an upgraded security system.

Queen Elizabeth officially reopened the 19th century gallery, the oldest of its kind in England, following an 18-month closure.

The 8.3m refurbishment, helped by a 5m Heritage lottery grant, includes a new restaurant, offices and education rooms.

The portrait of Jacob III de Cheyn, which has a place in the Guinness Book of Record for its notoriety, is now so well-known in the international art world that it has proved impossible to fence.


Well wishers with the Queen
Hundreds of well-wishers greeted the Queen in Dulwich

Stolen most recently in the 1980s, the painting's various escapades have seen it been recovered from West Germany, returned anonymously, found on the back of a bicycle, and discovered under a bench in a graveyard in nearby Streatham.

The gallery's art collection, which includes works by Poussin and Rubens, was originally intended for the King of Poland, Stanislaus Augustus.

He commissioned London art dealers to buy the paintings, but the collection was only completed after his forced abdication and the works stayed in Britain.

Among the crowds of well-wishers and schoolchildren who turned out to see the Queen, around 100 youngsters brought their own portraits to show her.

They featured a four-year-old Queen Victoria wearing a black hat, copied from the famous painting by SP Denning who painted the Queen's great, great grandmother.

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