Adoration of the Magi

about 1725
Corrado Giaquinto (Italian (Roman), 1703–1765)


Overall: 48.3 x 54.6cm (19 x 21 1/2in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Robert and Ruth Remis Gallery (Gallery 244)





Giaquinto studied in Naples, settled in Rome in 1723, and was appointed court painter in Madrid in 1753. This intimate and tender work, with its silvery light and delicate, pastel colors, was probably painted shortly after his arrival in Rome. It is a fine example of Roman painting in the eighteenth-century Rococo style.


Until 1940, Federico Gentili di Giuseppe (b. 1868 - d. 1940), Paris; April 23-24, 1941, sold under the order of a Nazi-occupied court, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, lot 24 [see note 1], along with Mr. Gentili di Giuseppe's estate [see note 2]. 1941 until 1990, private collection, France (?); June 15, 1990, anonymous sale, Christie's, Monaco, lot 26 [see note 3], to Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London; 1992, sold by Agnew to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 22, 1992)

[1] Attributed to Pietro Berrettini, called Pietro da Cortona.

[2] Federico Gentili di Giuseppe, a Jewish Italian businessman living in Paris, died of natural causes in April of 1940, leaving his estate to his children. With the fall of France to Hitler in June of that year, his family fled the country. German law forbade the return of those who had left occupied territory, so his family was unable to assert its claim to the works of art. A surrogate administrator was appointed to manage the family's affairs and the art collection was auctioned in Paris in 1941. While the estate received the revenue from the sale, the family lost its ownership of the paintings.

In 1997, Mr. Gentili di Giuseppe's heirs brought legal action against the Musée du Louvre and the State of France to have the April 1941 sale declared null and void. On June 2, 1999, the Court of Appeals of Paris nullified the sale, determining that Mr. Gentili di Giuseppe's family had been prevented from attending to the administration of the estate. Five paintings held by the Louvre were subsequently returned to the family. By February 1999 the heirs had begun pursuing individual claims regarding the other paintings in the 1941 auction and contacted the MFA about the Adoration of the Magi at that time. Because the MFA had purchased the painting before any claims were registered with the French government, the heirs affirmed that the Museum acquired the work in good faith, without knowledge that the 1941 sale was suspect. The MFA and the heirs agreed upon a part purchase / part donation settlement, through which the painting remains in the collection of the MFA.

[3] According to the catalogue accompanying the 1990 sale, the painting was "acquired in 1941 by its current owner."

Credit Line

Charles Potter Kling Fund and other funds, by exchange, from the Estate of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe