Lost Caravaggio Discovered
words by Carol King
The Italian newspaper ‘Il Messaggero’ reports that several experts have identified a Caravaggio painting of St John the Baptist believed to have been lost.
St John the Baptist was a frequent subject in the Italian painter’s work and the rediscovered painting showing a youth with a shepherd and a sheep is believed to depict the saint as a young man. Experts believe that the subject’s posture is reminiscent of two of the artist’s paintings of the saint: the one painted in c. 1604 in Rome’s Palazzo Corsini collection showing him as a male nude, and ‘The Crowning with Thorns’ (c. 1602-07) in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna that shows him being tortured.
Italian art historian Federico Zeri was the first to attribute the painting to Caravaggio in 1951. Since then, scientific tests conducted on the canvas reveal it has features typical of Caravaggio’s work. Research into the provenance of the painting and details revealed during its restoration in 2010 also point to its being Caravaggio’s handiwork.
Other prominent art experts now convinced that the canvas is by Caravaggio include Claudio Strinati, Maurizio Calvesi, Carlo Giantomassi, Rossella Vodret, Clovis Witfield, and Sebastian Schütze. In 2011, Sergio Guarino, curator of the Capitoline Museums in Rome, found telltale documents that also support the theory of the lost Caravaggio.