Several months ago an investigator from the United States Department of Homeland Security contacted the Speed Art Museum concerning a small, Italian altarpiece in its collection. Based on information provided by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage in Rome, it appeared this artwork had been stolen from the Villa La Giraffa in Goito, Italy on October 2, 1971; collaborative research with the Speed Museum later proved this to be the case and the Museum has agreed to return the work to its rightful owners in Italy. You can learn more about this story here and here .Before giving the Italian altarpiece to the United States government, the Museum will present an exhibition of the work, The Case of the Italian Altarpiece, beginning June 9. This exhibition will place the painting in an overall context of the international art world and provide provenance and scholarly research.The painting is an Italian triptych (3 panel altar painting) depicting the Madonna and Child flanked by St. John the Baptist and St. Catherine of Alexandria. Saint Anthony Abbot and a bishop saint appear on the left wing, and the crucifixion with Virgin and St. John the Evangelist appear on the right panel. Paintings of this kind were designed to be used as private altarpieces in the home and could be easily transported due to their small size and folding construction.
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