To find one previously unknown work by one of art’s undisputed geniuses may be considered good fortune. To discover 100 in one go might appear too good to be true. It should be no surprise then that last week’s astonishing claims by Italian art sleuths to have found a cache of 96 paintings and sketches by the baroque giant Caravaggio in a workshop in Milan’s Sforzesco Castle are facing increasing scrutiny and, in many circles, disbelief.
Art critics have expressed doubts that such a huge amount of work – almost doubling overnight the number of pictures attributed to the celebrated old master – could have gone unnoticed for so long.
And in response, authorities in Milan, no doubt miffed that art academics from the rival regional city of Brescia are claiming the glory for the discovery, are not sitting on their hands. Yesterday they announced two inquiries of their own into the veracity of the researchers’ claimed methods and checks, and an independent assessment of the artworks’ provenance.
Already the discovery is being tainted by serious claims and counter claims regarding dubious ethics and mysterious sorties at odd hours that could have come straight from the pages of the iconic painter’s own colourful life.
The excitement began last Wednesday when a breathless Italian news agency reported the confident claims of art experts from the Brescia Museum Foundation that around 100 early works by Michelangelo Merisi, better known as Caravaggio, had been identified. An eye-watering price was soon put on them: €700m (£550m).
The cache was found, said the researchers, Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz Guerrieri and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli, at the city’s landmark castle in the old workshop of Caravaggio’s master, the post-Renaissance painter Simone Peterzano. The researchers said their detailed comparison of the works with known pieces by the painter showed “the faces, bodies and scenes the young Caravaggio would use in later years”.
Strange Random Painting Quote:
- ‘Caravaggio sketches’ discovered (bbc.co.uk)
- Caravaggio claims spark art world spat (bigpondnews.com)
- Art historians claim to find new Caravaggio works (metronews.ca)
- Art historians claim to find 100 unknown ‘Caravaggio works’ in castle (itv.com)
- Secret stash of 100 ‘Caravaggio sketches’ found in Milan castle (guardian.co.uk)
- Early Caravaggio paintings found (timesofmalta.com)
- Italian art historians ‘find 100 Caravaggio paintings’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- New Caravaggio drawings discovered in Italy (abc.net.au)