Alleged Caravaggio Work Receives Protected Status in Spain | Spain

A small oil painting that avoided being sold at Spanish auctions for € 1,500 earlier this year after experts suggested it could be the work of Italian master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio a obtained the protected status as an object of cultural interest.

The painting of the scourged Christ, which measures 111cm by 86cm, was withdrawn from sale in April after it was suspected that it had been wrongly attributed to the circle of 17th-century Spanish artist José de Ribera.

Experts at the Prado Museum in Madrid, who have sounded the alarm, believe that there is “enough stylistic and documentary evidence” to suggest that it could be an original Caravaggio, meaning it could be worth up to € 50million (£ 42million).

On Wednesday, six months after Spain’s Culture Ministry imposed a precautionary export ban on painting, Madrid’s regional government officially declared the work a of cultural interest, or object of cultural interest.

He described the painting as “an example of the excellence and pictorial mastery of Italian naturalism” which had a great influence on the Madrid school of painting in the 17th century.

“Elements such as the psychological representations of the characters, the realism of the faces, the luminous force which illuminates the body of Christ, the play of the three characters and the communication that he establishes with the spectator make it a work of great interest. artistic, ”the regional government said in a statement.

He said the work deserves protection regardless of its painter, but the evidence points to Italian genius.

“The information that has emerged in recent months, as well as the studies undertaken by experts, reinforces the theory that this is the work of Caravaggio,” the statement said.

The painting’s protected status means that its owners – the three children of Antonio Pérez de Castro, founder of the IADE design school in Madrid, and artist Mercedes Méndez Atard – must notify authorities if they decide to sell it. to allow the regional government to decide whether it wishes to make an offer.


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