Tuesday 28 October 2014

Cardsharps Tiff

A painting of Caravaggio's The Cardsharps bought by the Thwaytes family in 1962 for £140 was auctioned by Sotheby's in London in 2006 for £42,000. Nice profit, you might think. But no. The new owner, British art historian Denis Mahon, found the painting has a pentimento (an alteration) which strongly suggests it was by the original artist - Caravaggio - not by a copyist. Copyists copy what's in front of them. Original artists change their minds and make alterations. Caravaggio is well known for painting different versions or copies of his paintings for different patrons. The new owner reckons his version is a genuine Caravaggio worth about £11. "Preposterous" ripostes Sotheby's. Bill Thwaytes is hopping mad and is suing Sotheby's in the High Court for negligence. The undisputed original of Caravaggio's The Cardsharps (c.1594) is owned by the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, USA. This is the one I've shown (CLICK). There are many copies, at least 50 early ones; but you can buy modern copies for peanuts. Chinese artists churn them out. The court case is expected to last for 4 weeks and will cost a fortune (CLICK).


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