The Boston Raphael:

A Mysterious Painting, an Embattled Museum in an Era of Change & A Daughter’s Search for the Truth

Hardcover sale price: $14.95 (Regularly $29.95)

The full, inside story of how the discovery of a previously unknown painting by Raphael, the Italian Renaissance master, went from media sensation to career-destroying scandal. On the eve of its centennial celebrations in December, 1969, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts announced the acquisition of an unknown and uncatalogued painting attributed to Raphael.

Boston’s coup made headlines around the world. Soon afterward, an Italian art sleuth began investigating the details of the painting’s export from Italy, challenged the museum’s right to ownership. Simultaneously, experts on both sides of the Atlantic lined up to debate its very authenticity. While these contests played themselves out on the international stage, the crisis deepened within the museum as its charismatic director, Perry T. Rathbone, faced the most challenging crossroads of his thirty-year career.

The story of the forces that converged on the museum, and how they led to Rathbone’s resignation as director, is only now fully revealed in this compelling, behind-the-scenes story that reveals how the art world, media, and museums work.

“In the compelling story of her father, Perry Rathbone, and the years when he was the elegant and revolutionary director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Belinda Rathbone evokes our country’s most glamorous years… The Boston Raphael is a combination of personal memoir and rich, deliciously detailed history that will keep you turning the pages.”
Susan Cheever

In this fascinating book about a watershed moment in the culture of America’s art museums, Rathbone (Walker Evans) considers her father Perry Rathbone’s directorship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) . . . [Rathbone’s] book sheds light on museology of the present as well as of the past.
—Publishers Weekly

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Belinda Rathbone is a biographer and historian who has written widely on 20th-century American photography. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Walker Evans: A Biography, as well as important essays on the work of Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz, and many contemporary artists and photographers. As a fine arts journalist, she has written for House and Garden, The World of Interiors, and the magazine Antiques.

Rathbone's books from Godine include the memoir, The Guynd: Love & Other Repairs in Rural Scotland and The Boston Raphael: A Mysterious Painting, an Embattled Museum in an Era of Change & A Daughter’s Search for the Truth.