The Castelfranco Madonna

On my mind today because I bought my wife as Christmas gift a book on the theft(s) of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb – this is Giorgione’s Castelfranco Madonna, usually dated to 1503-4 and one of only a few works of his where the attribution is not periodically overturned – much like the monthly reversals on the worth of eggs and red wine.

This one was stolen in 1972 but recovered – via ransom – a few weeks later in an abandoned house in the city. The original NY Times brief is below but I haven’t found a full summary of the recovery, unfortunately. It is back in situ and, a rare plus, there’s little chance of being bothered by others if you should visit.

VENICE, Italy. Dec. 19— Thieves broke into the cathedral of Castelfranco Veneto, northwest of here, last night and stole Giorgione’s painting “The Madonna With SS. Liberalis and Francis.” The disappearance of the celebrated work—one of the few attributed with certainty to Giorgione and believed to date from 1504.—caused consternation throughout Italy.

Officials of the Government’s Department for Antiquities and Fine Arts here called the stolen painting “absolutely priceless.” They theorized that the thieves had acted on commission from racketeers, who could never sell a rare authenticated Giorgione, but could collect a huge ransom for its return.

Bernardo Rossi Doria, secretary general of Italia Nostra, the country’s strongest conservationist organization, voiced concern that the Giorgione theft may strengthen the argument for taking art treasures out of churches and other traditional places of display and locking them up in museums.

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