Sunday, 23 December 2007

A 'New' Caravaggio?

Caravaggio - The Cardsharps, detail of 2 versions (1595) and (ca 1594)The art world is agog with the news that a recently discovered version of Caravaggio's The Cardsharps has gone on display at the Cavarretta Palace in Trapani, Sicily. Sir Denis Mahon bought this "new" Caravaggio for a mere £50,400 at an auction at Sotheby's, when it was described as the work of an anonymous "follower of Caravaggio". He has since authenticated the work as a genuine Caravaggio and dated it to 1595. I downloaded images of both paintings to compare them, the "new" (title link) and the "old", which is owned by the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas (CLICK). As you can see from the duplicated detail above, the "new" Caravaggio on the left lacks the Kimbell version's freshness of colour. Apart from that, the two paintings are identical! This makes me sceptical that both are by Caravaggio. It is well known that he did produce copies of paintings for different patrons: CLICK for comparisons of two versions of his St John the Baptist as a Child (1600) and for two versions of The Lute Player (ca 1595) CLICK. But an exact copy? Surely this is tedious work he would have passed to an apprentice. If so, which is by the master and which by the apprentice?


At 31/3/10, Anonymous CARDSHARK Online said...

I don't think the two images that you show are two images of two separate paintings. Those look more like two images of the same exact painting, i.e. of the original Cardsharps at the Kimbell. Oftentimes digital images have different saturation and tint levels.

As for the "new" Cardsharps, I have not been able to find a single image of it anywhere on the internet. But there are plenty of sites that display different versions of the original, claiming to be the new one.

At 1/4/10, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

They definitely are 2 different paintings. So it isn't a case of different images of the same painting. I downloaded them from the appropriate websites. I see the image at Kimbell Art Museum isn't currently available. You could try the Artcyclopedia in my side bar. That lists the galleries and museums where images are available. That's how I found duplicates of a number of famous paintings. (If they're listed in 2 reputable art galleries or museums, one of them is copy of the other.)

At 7/8/10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the "appropriate website" you downloaded the image from that is purported to be the new one, because as the prior poster said, almost every website that mentions the new one actually has an image of the old. If you tell the site you got it from I can tell you if that is the old or the new, but I am almost certain he images are of the same painting

At 7/8/10, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

The title link takes you to the graphic of Sir Denis Mahon's purchase, and it is clearly labelled as part of the picture "Purchased by Sir Denis Mahon". So that is original. I'm pretty sure I downloaded the other graphic from the Kimbell Art Museum, though I see that image is no longer available. (Why? Maybe they have doubts about its authenticity.)

I'm very familiar with all the different colours that appear on the same painting all over the Internet. At the time I wrote the post, the Mahon discovery was new. So all the other images then on the Internet were derived from the Kimbell Art Museum photo.

I agree they look the same, apart from colour tints. That's why I suspected one of the them had been copied by one of Caravaggio's apprentices. Caravaggio's own copies usually have minor or major differences, e.g. his Amor Victorius.


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