Wellesley College museum's cherished Leger is lost, and the crate that held it may have been trashed

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A prized 1921 painting by the French cubist Fernand Leger has been lost - perhaps unintentionally thrown out - by Wellesley College's Davis Museum and Cultural Center.

That would be a costly mistake. Last year, the average Leger painting sold for $2.8 million.

"Woman and Child" is part of an important series by Leger that applied jagged, geometric strokes to a familial theme. John McAndrew, then director of the Davis, gave the oil on canvas to the museum in 1954, and it has hung on the walls of the Davis for most of the time since.

"It's very sad and upsetting that it's gone," said Wellesley art historian Patricia Gray Berman, who brought her students to look at the Leger every semester. "It's a great painting, and I hope it comes home."

College and museum officials declined to comment, other than to release a pair of short statements this week. Police have been informed of the missing painting, and the museum's insurer has already paid off its claim.

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