Art: Dark Gift Horse

As an art collector, Boston Copper Tycoon Quincy Adams Shaw (named for his father's friend, John Quincy Adams) knew what he liked. On a trip to Italy in 1874, he dropped into a small church north of Florence and saw something he liked very much. It was a big, unsigned and undocumented painting of the Nativity, which Shaw felt certain was from the hand of the 16th Century Venetian master, Tintoretto. He bought it and bore it proudly home.

The painting remained in the family until his son, the second Quincy Adams Shaw, offered it to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts four...

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