Claim made that new Caravaggios found
A pair of Italian art historians say they have found as many as 100 works by famed artist Caravaggio, purportedly done when the temperamental master was very young.
The works, most of them drawings, were discovered in a collection long attributed to a Milanese artist Caravaggio studied under as a youth in the late 16th century.
The claim, being made by Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli, could not be verified, according to The Associated Press. The duo will shortly release a pair of ebooks laying out the case for their assertion.
If true, the find would be stunning. There are few surviving examples of Caravaggio’s work. The Italian baroque painter, whose realistic and dramatic canvases set a new standard for Western art, died in 1619 in his late 30s after a troubled life.
“But one expert familiar with the collection said it was unlikely that more than a few at most were actually done by Caravaggio and that none show the mature hand of the temperamental artist – who was famed for his dramatic chiaroscuro effect of dark space contrasting with light, vivid still life and the then-scandalous use of models from the lower walks of life for religious scenes,” according to the wire service.
The works were culled from the collection of Simone Peterzano, under whom Caravaggio studied from 1584 to 1588.
The Peterzano collection contains nearly 1,400 works. Bernardelli, in brief remarks to The Associated Press, said that until now experts had considered the collection to contain only works by Peterzano.
“Evidently no one entertained the hypothesis that there were works” of his pupils, including that of Caravaggio, among the drawings, Bernardelli said.
Neither Conconi Fedrigolli nor Bernardelli returned calls for further comment after a first conversation by cell phone was terminated because of poor reception, according to the wire service.
The Italian news agency ANSA said the two spent two years poring through the collection. They used a computer to study similarities between details in some of the art school drawings with details in paintings by Caravaggio decades later.
A website promoting the ebook says more than five dozen of these drawings contain details strikingly similar to those in works of the mature artist.
Claudio Strinati, a 16th-century art expert, told The Associated Press that the claim that some 100 works in the collection were actually done by Caravaggio, born in 1573 as Michelangelo Merisi, was “completely absurd.”
“If you consider that Peterzano had so many pupils, there were probably 50,000 drawings,” most of them likely thrown away, Strinati said. “No one knows which were done by the pupils.”
(Above: Caravaggio’s The Denial of St. Peter, late 1590s-early 1600s, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.)