Virgin and Child
43.8 x 34.3 cm (17 1/4 x 13 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil and tempera on panel
Not On View
Please note: This painting has been deaccessioned by the MFA. See below for further information.
By 1900, Tadeusz Konopka (b. 1844 - d. 1903), Kraków, Poland; by descent to his son, Józef Konopka (b. 1884 - d. 1940), and his wife Helena (b. 1899), Jaroslaw and Warsaw; 1944, looted from the Konopka home during the Warsaw Uprising [see note 2]. 1970, with Wilhelm Henrich, Frankfurt; March 11, 1970, sold by Henrich to the MFA [see note 3]; November 18, 2004, deaccessioned by the MFA for restitution to the daughter and heir of Józef and Helena Konopka, Anna Konopka Unrug, Poland [see note 4].
 The Virgin and Child was originally the central panel of a now dismantled reliquary triptych; the current location of the two wings, depicting Saints Catherine and Barbara (inside) and the Virgin Mary and Christ as the Man of Sorrows (outside), is unknown. The triptych was published as in the Konopka collection by L. Lepszy, "Katalog wystawy zabytków epoki Jagiellonskiej w 500 rocznice odnowienia Uniwersytetu Jagiellonskiego" (Kraków, 1900), p. 29, cat. no. 251 and ibid., "Kultura epoki Jagiellonskiej," Wiadomosci Numizmatyczno-Archeologiczne 4, 1; 51 (1902): 421-424.
 Józef Konopka, serving in the Polish army, was killed in 1940 after being taken hostage by the Red Army. The painting remained in his Warsaw apartment, where his wife Helena, daughter Anna, and housekeeper Stefania Cholewa lived. The collection was plundered, probably by German troops, during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. On September 21, 1945, Helena Konopka completed and signed a Questionnaire of Wartime Losses, attesting to their loss of property in 1944, which included several works of art. In 2004, Anna Konopka Unrug attested that the Virgin and Child had been in their Warsaw home and was lost in 1944. The painting was erroneously published in 1940 as being at the National Museum, Kraków; see M. Czansky, "Das bartfelder Madonnen-Bild," Az Orszagos Magyar Szepmuveszeti Muzeum Evkonyvei 10 (1940), pp. 62, 75. In fact, a photograph of the painting -- not the object itself -- was held by the National Museum. This is attested in a letter from Marek Swica, Deputy Director of the National Museum in Kraków, to the MFA (October 19, 2004).
 Former accession number 1970.77. The MFA purchased the painting from Henrich, a dealer, without knowledge of its wartime or immediate postwar provenance. It was acquired as a work by the Master of the Saint Barbara Altar, a Silesian painter active in the fifteenth century.
 The MFA received a restitution claim for the painting (July 29, 2004) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland on behalf of Anna Konopka Unrug. At that time, curatorial records indicated that the painting had been in the Konopka collection in 1900/1902, and that it had remained in Poland during World War II. In light of the facts presented by the claimant regarding the Konopkas' loss of property in 1944, the MFA resolved to return the painting to its rightful owner.
M. Theresa B. Hopkins Fund