Have we found the Lost Caravaggio?

Oct 25, 2020 | Authentications & attributions, Cutural Heritage, Discoveries, Exhibitions, Publications, Restoration

In 2006 “Il Caravaggio perduto”, by J. Harr, was published. The volume describes the discovery of a painting by the Italian Master that had been lost for centuries. The protagonists are a great art historian and a PhD graduate, who discovers, in the inaccessible and forgotten archive of the Mattei family, in Recanati, the proof that an original by Caravaggio (the Capture of Christ: Jesus surrounded by soldiers and kissed by Judas) had been sold in 1802, with an incorrect attribution, to a Scottish gentleman. It is not a fiction; it is more or less the chronicle of what happened a few decades ago.

As a consequence, the version now in Dublin became the original Caravaggio, after having entered the collection as Gerrit van Honthorst. A splendid subject of which there are many versions.

One is now exhibited at Palazzo Pitti, and a new volume, The Capture of Christ by Caravaggio – A recovery for the Uffizi Galleries , edited by Sillabe, (for now unfortunately only in Italian) summarises the historical, artistic and scientific studies carried out on the canvas previously in storage at the Baldissera Carabinieri Station in Florence.
Thanks to the accurate provenence research that constitutes the heart of the volume, it was possible to ascertain the origin of the canvas from the Lorraine castle of Commercy, not far from the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Nancy where an Annunciation by Caravaggio is kept, probably commissioned by the Duke of Lorraine.
The same castle from which also other works destined for the Florentine grand-ducal collections arrived in Florence in 1737, when the Habsburg-Lorraine took over the regency of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Scientific analyses on the painting were performed by Art-Test and generated many interesting surprises, starting with a previous, hidden different version of a soldier, as revealed by the X-ray images.

One thing is certain, we will hear about this painting again. Stay tuned!

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