The newly verified Caravaggio is on display in Madrid

The newly verified Caravaggio is on display in Madrid

A recently authenticated painting by the famous 17th century artist Caravaggio is on display at the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Ecce Homo, which shows the Roman governor Pontius Pilate presenting Christ to the people, is one of 60 known works by the Italian master – but it has almost escaped the attention of the wider art world, having been initially attributed to a lesser artist.

It was withdrawn from sale by order of the Spanish government in 2021, hours before it was to be auctioned for an opening price of €1,500 (£1,280).

Today, three years after this decisive intervention, the work is on display for the first time since its true status was confirmed.

Earlier this month, Prado said the painting was “without doubt a masterpiece by Caravaggio”, calling it “one of the greatest discoveries in the history of art”.

Caravaggio, who died in 1610 at the age of 38, was renowned for his dramatic use of light and shadow to bring a deep psychological realism to the scenes of violence he typically depicted.

Art historians have described his work as the beginning of modern painting.

Ecce Homo would have belonged to the private collection of the King of Spain Philip IV, before being exhibited in the apartments of his son Charles II.

It resurfaced in Madrid in April 2021, when it was described as the work of an artist belonging to the circle of the 17th-century Spanish painter José de Ribera.

But after Prado experts expressed suspicions about the painting’s true authorship, the Spanish Ministry of Culture intervened to block its sale.

It will be on display until October as part of a unique and special exhibition, following an agreement with its new owner, who is believed to be a British national residing in Spain.

After that, the painting will be transferred to the Prado’s permanent collection for another four months.

According to Spanish media, the painting changed hands for €36 million (£30.6 million).

Jorge Coll, director of the London art gallery Colnaghi which handled the sale, told the newspaper El País that the painting would remain on loan to public collections, rather than ending up in the owner’s house.


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