The Spanish Ministry of Culture has interupted a Madrid auction house´s sale of a painting following suggestions it could be a long-lost masterpiece by the Italian Renaissance artist, Caravaggio.
However, the listing drew the attention of art experts with some speculation that it could be a work by Michelangelo Caravaggio, in which case it would be worth around €150m – a thousand times it´s catalogue list price.
Shortly before the auction was due to start yesterday, Thursday 8th April, it was withdrawn from sale, following a government order to prohibit it´s export.
A spokeswoman for the Ansorena auction house is reported by Agence France Press as saying that “different experts are studying the work and right now, we have no further information. The painting has been declared ‘not for export’ and will not be able to leave Spain”.
The Minister for Culture, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, said, “the painting is valuable, we hope it’s a Caravaggio.”
The 17th century painting, which depicts Jesus before his crucifixion is being examined by experts including from Madrid´s El Prado Museum.
The museum is quoted as having told the Ministry of Culture, that there was “sufficient documentary and stylistic evidence to consider that the painting… may be an original work by Caravaggio.”
Caravaggio’s distintive artistic style employed the use of dark and light, and few colours, creating a luminescent effect on canvas.