On Sept. 13, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts unveiled a single-work exhibition showcasing the rare Renaissance painting Senigallia Madonna, by Italian master Piero della Francesca.
On loan from Italy, the work will be on view in the United States for the first time.
Stolen in 1975, the tempera and oil on panel painting was recovered the following year by the Carabinieri Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (known as the Carabinieri Art Squad) — a branch of the Italian military police charged with combating theft, looting and illicit trade in works of art.
Part of the MFA’s Visiting Masterpieces series, Piero della Francesca’s Senigallia Madonna: An Italian Treasure, Stolen and Recovered will be on view through January 6, 2014, in the museum’s Lee Gallery, along with accompanying video that chronicles the efforts of the Carabinieri.
The exhibition is part of 2013, Year of Italian Culture in the United States.
“This profoundly moving painting, by one of the greatest of all Italian artists, will give visitors to the MFA an experience of intense spirituality,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director at the MFA.
Admired today for creating some of 15th century Italy’s most treasured frescoes and altarpieces, Piero della Francesca was a brilliant mathematician as well as a painter.
Known as an early master of geometry, his style is marked by the geometric elegance of his settings, the calm and nobility of his monumental figures and a masterly handling of light.
The Senigallia Madonna, nearly 2 feet by 2 feet in size, shows the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child with two attending angels. Given its format and subject, this picture would have been intended for private devotion. Its name comes from the port city of Urbino in Italy, where it was first noted in a church in the 19th century. The painting is normally on display in the Italian museum, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, located in the Ducal Palace (Palazzo Ducale) in Urbino.