Four hundred years after the death of Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, this world known artist launched a challenge for a new interpretation of his “Nativity”, created in Palermo for the Oratorio San Lorenzo and sadly remembered because it was stolen on the 17th of October 1969, “during a dark and stormy night”, as the chronicles of the time told.
The person who accepted the challenge is Ludovico Gippetto, a researcher from Palermo, and the creator of the project “Wanted… presi per il verso giusto”. Since 1992 Gippetto has dealt with the prevention, promotion and protection of Cultural heritage. Gippetto and his staff managed to obtain excellent results, recuperating some important works, simply by advertising pictures through marketing campaigns. The aim is to prevent their illegal distribution, which has a turnover that comes just after the drugs market.
Since the disappearance of the “nativity” by Caravaggio 40 years ago, the problem of robberies has never been underestimated, and in the meantime the studies on the allegoric meaning of this paining are still continuing.
This recent iconographic discovery opens a new line on a mysterious character of the paining, a “Shepherd” next to Saint Francis.
“Everything started – said Ludovico Gippetto – when I saw the picture of the paining and I asked myself the reason why Saint Joseph gave his back. Moreover, who was his mysterious interlocutor? After various hypotheses and two years of study, I realized that the “Shepherd” who was next to Saint Francis and in front of the holy family could just be another Saint. From his clothes, he could be Saint James, with his unmistakable pilgrim outfit”.
Translated by Chiara Nunnari from John Milton Institute