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Lost Botticelli Madonna recovered near Naples after 50 years



Sandro Botticelli

Daniel Esparza - published on 12/11/23

Although the canvas was documented by the Italian state in 1931, it subsequently vanished from official records and deteriorated over time.
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Fifty years ago, Italian authorities had lost sight of a €100 million Botticelli masterpiece – a Madonna and Child. The painting has now been (re)discovered in a private residence near Naples.

The recently recovered artwork depicting the Madonna and Child is in a significantly deteriorated condition. As read in the note published by The Guardian, a representative of the carabinieri (police) command for the protection of cultural heritage of Naples, said that “the last time the authorities had inspected the private residence where the Botticelli painting was kept [was] over 50 years ago. Since then, inexplicably, the painting had been forgotten by the authorities. When, after research on these works to be inspected, we realized that a painting by Botticelli had been located in a private home for over 50 years, we decided to inspect it.”

The Italian Ministry of Culture will oversee a careful restoration process expected to span a year. The image displays multiple scratches and color changes resulting from the oxidation of varnishes. Thorough restoration efforts aim at making it suitable for public viewing.

The painting, estimated to be worth around €100 million, was voluntarily surrendered to the Naples branch of the carabinieriresponsible for safeguarding Italy’s cultural heritage.

Sandro Botticelli, renowned for masterpieces like La Primavera and Birth of Venus, is believed to have painted this Madonna in the late 15th century. Originally housed in a church in Santa Maria la Carità near Naples, the painting was later entrusted to a family in Gragnano, sometime in the early 20th century.

Although the canvas was documented by the Italian state in 1931 and reconfirmed in 1968, it subsequently vanished from official records and deteriorated over time. Authorities are now exploring whether the painting rightfully belongs to the family, who passed it down through generations, or if it is indeed property of the state.

ArtItalyLost and found art
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