After over a hundred years of it being missing from Malta, a famous Mattia Preti masterpiece will be returning to the island.
Boethius and Philosophy, an oil on canvas piece from the 17th century, was bought by the government for €1.3 million after it had disappeared mysteriously from the Grandmaster’s Palace over two centuries ago.
It was purchased after it turned up at Sotheby’s Old Masters Auction in New York and will now be added to Malta’s National Collection.
“‘Boethius and Philosophy’ has strong links to Malta,” Arts Minister José Herrera said. “By acquiring it, we are returning it to its rightful owners, the Maltese people.”
Minister Herrera said that this masterpiece is now officially under Heritage Malta’s wing, having been assigned with its stewardship for the benefit of present and future generations.
“This acquisition was possible thanks to our collaboration with Government and the National Development and Social Fund [the fund which administers the revenue generated by the IIP sale of citizenship scheme],” said Anthony Scicluna, Heritage Malta’s Chairperson. “I now look forward to completing the restoration works at the Grandmaster’s Palace, so as to display this work of art where it was first originally displayed.”
“This acquisition, which is a first for NDSF, falls within one of the socio-economic aims in its founding regulations, that is, to protect and enrich the cultural and artistic heritage of our country,” said Raymond Ellul, the NDSF’s Chief Executive Officer.
“Mattia Preti’s painting of Boethius and Philosophy has all it takes to make it an extraordinary work. It has technical quality, a sophisticated theme, a strong narrative, and distinguished provenance,” said Professor Keith Sciberras, Head of the Department of Art and Art History within the Faculty of Arts.