For Immediate Release
April 9, 2015

Williamstown, Massachusetts—Belinda Rathbone, daughter of Perry Rathbone, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from 1955 to 1972, discusses her book The Boston Raphael: A Mysterious Painting, an Embattled Museum in an Era of Change, and a Daughter’s Search for the Truth at the Clark Art Institute on Sunday, April 26 at 3 pm. The free lecture will be held in the Clark Center, West Pavilion. Copies of the book are available for sale in the Museum Store.

In December 1969, the 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, challenging the museum’s right to ownership. Simultaneously, experts on both sides of the Atlantic debated its authenticity.

Belinda Rathbone digs into the background of the affair as it was reported in the popular press, revealing the power struggle within the museum that led to Perry Rathbone’s resignation. She draws from primary source material in various archival collections and more than a hundred interviews. The book includes many previously unpublished photographs.

Sebastian Smee of The Boston Globe calls The Boston Raphael “perhaps the most exciting book on the art world since Jonathan Harr’s The Lost Painting…. [It] will fascinate anyone interested in the mysterious back-room machinations of the art world.”

Belinda Rathbone is a biographer and historian who has written widely on twentieth 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. Rathbone is also the author of the memoir The Guynd: A Scottish Journal. As a fine arts journalist, she has written for House and GardenThe World of Interiors, and Antiques.


The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, open to the public with more than 240,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit or call 413 458 2303.

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