Verdict on suspected Caravaggio disappoints fans

Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:05am EDT
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By Ella Ide

ROME (Reuters) - Art-lovers around the world who were keeping their fingers crossed that a newly discovered canvas was possibly a lost painting by the Baroque master Caravaggio were disappointed on Tuesday.

The Italian art world was in a buzz last week when the Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano ran an article that a painting in Rome's main Jesuit church could be a Caravaggio.

The newspaper said that after a recent cleaning, the painting of the "Martyrdom of St. Lawrence" showed clear Caravaggio hallmarks including dramatic lighting effects.

"It was always here hanging on a wall, we passed it hundreds of times without ever paying it any real attention," said Father Daniele Libanori, the church curator.

It was only when the canvas was cleaned that it occurred to Libanori that he might have something special on his hands.

"During the cleaning process it seemed particularly beautiful and therefore we informed the (art) authorities," he said.

But after inspecting the painting, experts from Rome's Museums Authority excluded the possibility, pointing to less-than-masterly brushstrokes on the saint's hands and the poor depiction of the executioners watching him burn.

"It is a very, very interesting painting, but I think we can exclude at this point of our studies that it can be the work of Caravaggio," Rosella Vodret, of the Museums Authority, told Reuters.   Continued...

<p>Rosella Vodret (R) of Rome's Museums Authority speaks about the "Martyrdom of St. Lawrence" painting as it is displayed at Chiesa del Gesu (Church of the Holy Name of Jesus) in Rome July 27, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi</p>