The Maltese Government has acquired the 17th century monumental oil on canvas painting by Mattia Preti titled Boethius and Philosophy for the sum of €1,323,000.
The acquisition of this important work has been financed by the National Development and Social Fund, which will own the asset and lend the masterpiece for an indefinite period to Heritage Malta.
Considered as “one of the masterpieces of Preti’s last years, and indeed of Preti’s entire career” by Dr John Spike, and as a “major and sophisticated example of Preti’s themes of a philosophical imprint depicted in Malta” by Professor Keith Sciberras, the Boethius and Philosophy was painted in around 1680.
It was bought from London auction house Sotherby's.
National Heritage Minister José Herrera said the acquisition proved the government’s commitment to continue to protect and enrich the cultural and artistic heritage of Malta.
In this composition, Preti captures the moment when an allegory of Philosophy, whose image follows the iconography of the subject, appears to the jailed Boethius, who sits pondering his past.
Beyond the inherent prestige of such works of art, Boethius and Philosophy, like the artist himself, has strong links with Malta.
It is believed that the painting was commissioned by Andrea di Giovanni, Knight of the Order of Malta.
By the early nineteenth century it formed part of the collection of the Palace of the Grand Master of the same order.
It was represented hanging on the walls of one of the rooms of the palace in a mid-19th century watercolour by Charles de Brocktorff.
The painting probably left the island at the end of the 19th century.