The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Mattia Preti’s ‘Boethius and Philosophy’ to be brought back to Malta

Saturday, 1 February 2020, 00:32 Last update: about 5 years ago

The Maltese Government has successfully 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 who will own the asset and contemporaneously lend the masterpiece for an indefinite period to Heritage Malta for the benefit of present and future generations.


Considered as "one of the masterpieces of Preti's last years, and indeed of Mattia 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 by the artist in around 1680 or just after that date. 

Minister for National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government José Herrera, whilst thanking the Board of Governors of the National Development Social Fund and Heritage Malta, stated that this acquisition is proof of government's commitment to continue to protect and enrich the cultural and artistic heritage of our country.

In this composition, Mattia Preti captures the moment when an allegory of Philosophy, whose images follows the iconography of the subject, appears to the jailed Boethius, who sits at left pondering his past. In the background, to the right, appear the Muses, who help to guide his pen in writing, even though he must eschew them in favour of Philosophy, who is holding a sceptre, an emblem of her authority over the liberal arts. 

Beyond the inherent prestige of such works of art, Boethius and Philosophy, like the artist himself, has strong links with the country. It is believed that the painting was commissioned by Andrea di Giovanni, Knight of the Order of Malta. By the early nineteenth century, the Boethius and Philosophy was part of the collection of the Palace of the Grand Master of the same order. It was represented hanging in the walls of one of the rooms of the palace in a mid-19th century watercolour by Charles de Brocktorff. It was probably at the end of the 19th century that the painting was taken out the of the island.

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