Pietermaritzburg - The Tatham Art Gallery has fallen victim to brazen thieves who stole four “priceless” dancing cherubs from atop the antique ormolu clock.
The theft was discovered on Monday afternoon when staff went to clean exhibits in the ceramics room on the second floor. It is believed that the theft took place some time between late December and Monday.
According to Tatham’s assistant director, Bryony Clarke, the rare clock is one of the gallery’s biggest drawcards. Ormolu is an old, and dangerous, process using mercury to gild brass.
The clock was donated to the then Municipal Art Gallery (before it became known as Tatham) by William Harper, a former city councillor in 1926.
The clock was originally made for an Indian rajah as a gift by Messrs A & H Rowley of London, about 150 years ago.
The missing angels were cast from bronze and then gilded.
Each angel is about 25cm tall, stands on one leg on a fluted dome and held a globe on each of the four corners of the clock’s ebony case. The angels arms extend upwards with open wings spread behind it. Msunduzi municipal manager, Mxolisi Nkosi, confirmed that the municipality’s internal security team would also be conducting an investigation into the theft.
Then, subject to budget considerations, the council would look at improving the existing security at the gallery.
There are two guards stationed at the gallery’s foyer. There are no security cameras in the gallery.