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Spain’s Prado Museum Confirms Authenticity of Caravaggio Painting Previously Thought Lost

by Ikenna Ngere
Spain's Prado Museum Confirms Authenticity of Caravaggio Painting Previously Thought Lost

The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, said on Monday that a painting that was scheduled for auction in Madrid in 2021 is, in reality, a long-lost piece by the renowned Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Later this month, the museum will unveil it to the public for the first time.

In a statement released by the Prado on Monday, it was stated that the painting, entitled “Ecce Homo” (Latin for “Behold The Man”), has found a new owner and will be on display as a unique one-piece exhibition from May 27 until October. The owner has not yet been named.

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

“Painted by the great Italian artist around 1605-09 and believed to have once been 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,” the Prado added.

The piece, which was later identified as the product of José de Ribera, a 17th-century Spanish painter’s apprentice, was withdrawn from auction by Spanish officials in April 2022. Additionally, they banned its export after the museum informed the authorities that it might be a Caravaggio.

The artwork was scheduled to go up for auction, with a $1,600 starting price. Genuine Caravaggio paintings are worth tens of millions of dollars, if not more.

Since then, the owners have conducted research and continued with the painting’s restoration, according to Miguel Falomir, director of the Prado Museum. This has resulted in the finding “that it is, in fact, a work by Caravaggio and a work that arrived in Spain in the 17th century.”

“For our part, we are more than happy to be the stage to present this new unshown work of Caravaggio to the public and critics,” Falomir said in a video statement released by the museum.

The oil painting on canvas portrays the Ecce Homo chapter from the Bible, which shows the presentation of Jesus Christ to the masses prior to his crucifixion. The piece is 34 by 44 inches in size.

Even though it is currently in private ownership, the painting cannot leave Spain without official authorization.

According to the Prado, the Colnaghi art gallery has been caring for the piece since April 2021 while working with specialists. Under the direction of specialists from the Madrid regional administration, Andrea Cipriani and his colleagues restored the painting.

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