April 11, 2021

Spain blocks the auction of a painting that could be by Caravaggio

The painting that some experts attribute to Caravaggio

The painting that some experts attribute to Caravaggio

Spain has blocked the auction at Sotheby’s headquarters in Madrid scheduled for this Thursday of a painting on the hypothesis that it is a real Caravaggio, as reported by the Italian newspaper ‘La Repubblica’. For this newspaper, the painting is really about a Caravaggio and the Spanish State has blocked it for the moment and has also decreed that after the sale you will not be able to leave the Spanish borders.

The box in question is an ‘Ecce Homo’ from the 17th century, an oil on canvas, 111 by 86 centimeters and that at first it had been attributed to the circle of José de Ribera and estimated at just 1,500 euros. However, according to the experts consulted by the newspaper, this Christ “has all the earmarks of being a discovered Caravaggio, and may open a new sensational chapter in the history of the cursed painter, who died at the age of 39, on July 18, 1610 on the coast between Lazio and Tuscany, waiting to be pardoned from the murder conviction. ”

The newspaper publishes the statement of María Cristina Terzaghi, who was one of the first scholars of the seventeenth century teacher who came to the Spanish capital to see the work, and that has no doubt that it belongs to the painter whose real name was Michelangelo Merisi. This professor of Modern Art History at the Roma Tre University explains that “the purple cloak that Christ is dressed in has the same compositional value as the red one in the Salomé del Prado in Madrid”, and that “this work maintains a link deep with the paintings made at the beginning of the Neapolitan stay “.

The newspaper explains that the choice of the Spanish state “to block the auction is clear proof that the new attribution is widely shared.” It states that it is based on a certain fact and that the canvas has been in Spain for almost four centuries and portrays the same theme already faced by Caravaggio. As the documents point out, it is known that in Rome, in 1605, Caravaggio painted an Ecce Homo for Cardinal Massimo Massimi.

The same subject is inventoried in 1631 in the collection of Juan de Lezcano, ambassador of Spain to the Holy See, and marked by a very high estimate of 800 escudos. The viceroy of Spain, Count of Castrillo, owned another original Caravaggio: the ‘Salomé con la cabeza del Bautista’ which together with ‘Ecce Homo’ they traveled to Spain with their owner in 1659, rebuilds the diary. The first painting, included among the royal possessions as early as 1666, ended up in the Prado Museum, where it is still exhibited today, and the second, in all probability, is the one that emerged among the objects of the headquarters of the house of Ansorena art.

That the owners have forgotten an authentic Caravaggio for centuries can be astonishing.. However, it is not the first time this has happened. The most recent case is that of Magdalena in ecstasy, attributed by Mina Gregori, dean of the Caravaggio chair, and inherited by non-expert collectors, “explains the newspaper.

In the newspaper ‘Corriere della Sera’, the art critic Vittorio Sgarbi explains that he had assumed it was a Caravaggio and that he had set out to buy it for hundreds of thousands of euros to be able to bring it back to Italy, but that this Wednesday he found out that the painting had been removed. ‘Corriere della Sera’ publishes that the auction house has declared that the lot has been withdrawn “because the piece has to be checked and studied further.”


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