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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Rapid Reversal of Fortune

In my posting one week ago, questioning the possible attribution of a Martyrdom of St. Lawrence to Caravaggio, I said I thought it would be a while before the experts pronounced their final verdict. While I was right to question the attribution, I was wrong about how long it would take for the experts to weight in ...

Yesterday, Antonio Paolucci, the head of the Vatican Museums and a former Italian Culture Minister, took back the claim -- announced just 8 days earlier-- that the Jesuit-owned Martyrdom of St. Lawrence might be the work of Caravaggio.

In a front-page article in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Paolucci wrote, "The quality isn't there, whereas in a Caravaggio [the quality is] always high, even when ... he uses maximum carelessness and a minimum of his expressive resources."

In the article, entitled "A New Caravaggio? Not Really," Paolucci wrote that the work was not up to Caravaggio's standard, citing “inadequacy” of technique, and stylistic shortcomings. He called it a "modest" effort at best, and suggested that it was most likely (a student?) copy of an original painted by a Caravaggio-influenced artist.

Their hopes dashed, I imagine the Jesuits who own it are rather disappointed.

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