The dismembering of works of art is a mutilation of the cultural heritage of humanity. Wars, invasions and conquests, the ostentatiousness of famous people, the passion of amateurs and magnates for collecting, and the profit motive of art dealers – all must take some of the blame for such occurrences. Guilty, too, are curators who succumb to the temptation to enrich their museum's collections by acquiring fragments of dismembered works of art.
Since time immemorial, conquerors have always striven to destroy a nation's treasures as an effective means of impairing or annihilating the personality of defeated nations while furthering the profits and prestige of the victor.
Pillage or theft of art from churches and temples is especially vulnerable to dismemberment. Altar pieces may be broken up and sold to different locations.