The Prado sees “well-founded reasons” for attributing the ‘Ecce homo’ to Caravaggio | Culture


'Ecce homo' removed from the Casa Ansorena auction in Madrid.
‘Ecce homo’ removed from the Casa Ansorena auction in Madrid.

“There are well-founded formal and documentary reasons to consider that it is probably the original work of Michelangelo Merisi di Caravaggio.” This is the conclusion that appears in the report that the Prado Museum sent to the Ministry of Culture and the Community of Madrid, extracted in the resolution published this Wednesday in the official bulletin of the regional Administration, by which the alleged caravaggio, originally attributed to the circle of the painter José Ribera, is already a Site of Cultural Interest (BIC). In other words, the painting, in the possession of Ansorena, which was going to be auctioned with a starting price of 1,500 euros, not only cannot be exported – as Culture ordered hours before it was sold – but as of this Wednesday It is officially protected by the General Directorate of Heritage of Madrid that last Friday had already processed the legal protection. The Community is still waiting for the auction house to deliver the information about the owners of the piece and to make a visit to assess it. Ansorena has a period of 10 days from last Monday to respond.

In the resolution of the official bulletin of the Community of Madrid there is a summary of the Prado report in which the table is described in detail. “The image seems to correspond iconographically, rather than the crowning with thorns [el título con el que se ofertó en el catálago de Ansorena], to the baroque expression of Behold the man, The display of Christ O presentation of Christ to the people by Pilate narrated in the Gospel according to Saint John, a paradigmatic iconographic theme in the expression of the values ​​of the Counter-Reformation, the historical context in which it is inserted, ”the resolution reads. A detail that reinforces the idea that it was not only a possible attribution error, but that during the process of appraisal and valuation of the painting there were also errors in the description of the subject matter of the painting. In the Prado document collected by the Community of Madrid, the scene of the painting starring “a suffering Jesus Christ”, Pilate and “a character (probably a soldier, although in the image and due to the dirt it presents) is described in detail. the work’s characteristics are not well appreciated) that he is going to place a purple cloak on his shoulders ”.

In the documentation that the museum produced for several weeks, as EL PAÍS learned from sources familiar with the process, it is stated that “this painting could be related to the collecting of the 17th century viceroys of Naples.” That is, not with the circle of the painter Ribera, as it appears in the Ansorena catalog. The art gallery suggests that the painting may correspond to the time (17th century) when Caravaggio’s works were part of “the collection of the secretary of the court of Naples, Don Juan de Lezcano, which was subsequently transferred to that of the viceroy, Count of Castrillo, with which he would have arrived in Madrid ”.

In the event that it was not ultimately the work of Caravaggio, there is agreement among specialists in the field that the high-quality painting would surely respond to one of his most immediate followers.

According to various specialists, as the expert on the Italian Baroque painter Maria Cristina Terzaghi told this newspaper, in Lezcano’s inventory there was “a Behold the man with Pilate who shows him to the people, and an executioner who dresses him from behind, you wear purple ”. Those are the characters that appear in the piece that Ansorena was going to auction. Castrillo’s collection had “a Heccehomo de zinco [sic] spans with evano frame [sic] with a soldier and Pilatos who teaches the People and is an original by Micael Angel Caravacho (as collected by the publications of Antonio Vannugli in 2009 and Belén Bartolomé in 1994) ”, according to the Prado report. These data allow the museum to conclude that “according to Vannugli’s work, the painting cited in the sources would not correspond to the Behold the man attributed to Caravaggio, which is currently kept in the Palazzo Bianco museum in Genoa with inventory number PB 1638 ″. In this way, the museum adds a new unknown to a piece that, in the institution’s own words, “presents a controversy both because of its authorship and its provenance”, for years.

The verification

The Community of Madrid has initiated the procedure to determine the authorship of the painting. Culture asked the regional government this Monday to allow the Prado Museum to analyze the work. The region announced that it “plans to collaborate” with the art gallery and, in addition, once it knows the identity of the owners of the painting and their residence, it will request the Prado to choose qualified technical personnel to participate in the face-to-face visit to be made in the second fortnight of the month of April, once Ansorena communicates details of the property.

“In the event that the property that is the object of the declaration was not ultimately the work of Caravaggio, there is an agreement among specialists in the field that the painting, of high quality, would surely respond to one of his most immediate followers”, it reads in the resolution of the Community of Madrid that makes clear the relevance of the piece. “There is no doubt that the painting constitutes a magnificent testimony of the first Italian naturalism, a school that exerted a great influence on all European art. The stylistic technique, the prominence of the close-up of the characters, the realism of human models, the light contrast and the compositional sobriety make the work a highly interesting exponent of 17th century Italian naturalist painting ”, concludes the official bulletin .


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