Prado Museum To Display Lost Caravaggio Masterpiece

A lost Caravaggio painting that was misattributed and almost sold for €1,500 is to go on display at Madrid´s Prado Museum, three years after its discovery shocked the art world and made headlines across the world.

The painting will be unveiled on 28th May for a special one-piece exhibition until October.

The masterpiece entitled, ‘Ecce Homo‘ ( ‘Behold The Man’) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is believed to have been painted between 1605-09 and been once part of the private collection of Phillip IV of Spain.

The painting is one of around only 60 known works by Caravaggio in existence, and thus one of the most valuable old master artworks in the world.

After October, the work will be moved to the Prado’s permanent collection for a further four months.

In a press statement the Prado said “ Since its reappearance at an auction three years ago, Ecce Homo has represented one of the greatest discoveries in the history of art.”

In 2021, Spanish authorities halted an auction of the work, which was then attributed to a disciple of a 17th-century Spanish painter, José de Ribera. They also put an export ban on it after the museum alerted the government it could be a Caravaggio.

The painting was due to be auctioned with a starting price tag of €1,500. The value of an authentic Caravaggio would stretch into tens of millions of euros, if not more.

Miguel Falomir, the director of the Prado, said that since then the owners carried out studies and proceeded with the painting’s restoration, which led to the discovery ‘that it is, in fact, a work by Caravaggio and a work that arrived in Spain in the 17th century’.

The painting is not allowed to leave Spain without government permission.

Falomir said it had been in the hands of a family in Madrid since the 19th century. The family was allowed to sell it privately earlier this year following an agreement with the Madrid regional government. The new owner wanted the public presentation of the piece to take place in the Prado Museum.

The oil-on-canvas work depicts the Biblical passage of the Ecce Homo, in which Jesus Christ is presented to the crowds before being crucified. The work measures 111 by 86 cm. The painting was known as early as the 1600s, but experts later lost track of it.

The Prado said four of the most authoritative experts on Caravaggio and Baroque painting ‘all share the same passionate certainty: that Ecce Homo is a masterpiece by the Italian artist’.

One of the experts, Maria Cristina Terzaghi, was quoted as saying, ‘The speed of consensus around the work being a Caravaggio upon its rediscovery was absolutely unprecedented in the critical history of the painter, on whom scholars have rarely agreed, at least in the last 40 years.”





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