‘New’ Caravaggio ‘not real thing’ – Picture of St Lawrence ‘modest copy’ from another artist (from ANSA.IT)

(ANSA) – Vatican City, July 26 – A painting touted as a possible new Caravaggio is not in fact the work of the 16th-century master, the director of the Vatican museums said Monday. The Martyrdom of St Lawrence, hanging in a Jesuit church in Rome, is “only a modest copy” of a lost painting by a “quality” painter, not Caravaggio, Antonio Paolucci told Vatican daily l’Osservatore Romano. Paolucci, a former culture minister and one of Italy’s pre-eminent art scholars, noted that the foreshortening of the saint’s hands was “wrong” while the anatomy of background nudes was “clumsy and haphazard”. The picture also had “uncertain” draping and an “inadequate” layering, he argued. The suspected Caravaggio claimed international headlines on July 17 when l’Osservatore, in a front-page article, said it presented several characteristics of the artist’s work including chiaroscuro, the saint’s body movement, and the perspective from which the subject is seen. At the time the paper suggested the painting might shed light on Caravaggio’s little-known dealings with the Jesuits but cautioned that more analysis would be needed to clinch attribution.  Caravaggio scholars noted that claims of new findings were fairly frequent but usually failed to stand up to scrutiny. One also pointed out that St Lawrence was not one of Caravaggio’s known subjects. St Lawrence is said to have been a Spanish-born martyr burned to death under Emperor Valerian in 258 AD. While being roasted on a gridiron Lawrence is credited with shouting: “This side’s done, turn me over and have a bite”. He is the patron saint of comedians, butchers and roasters. The St Lawrence, housed in the Chiesa del Gesu’ in central Rome, will be discussed by a group of experts on Tuesday who will give their views to the international press. READ MORE ON ANSA.IT

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