How the pursuit of the last ‘lost’ Caravaggio captivated the European art world

At the end of March, Maria Cristina Terzaghi, associate professor at the Italian University Roma Tre, was writing about the famous baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, when the art dealer Fabrizio Moretti sent her a photo of a painting via WhatsApp. It featured Pontius Pilate presenting a Jesus crowned with thorns, a recognizable painting known as the Ecce Homo. The exact image was new to Terzaghi, but its composition and light contrast felt familiar to her, mirroring other works by an artist she had studied for over 17 years.

“Right away, it was so clear. I said ‘OK I have to see it [in person], ‘”, She remembers her first glance. The starting bid for the work, which was due to go on sale on April 8 at the Madrid auction house Ansorena, was only 1,500 euros, or around 1,800 dollars. Terzaghi asked the dealer and auctioneers for the higher resolution images, which further fueled her. suppose the work was an authentic Caravaggio. Based on interviews with nearly a dozen of the world’s leading Caravaggio experts, this is a theory that the vast majority of them now support – and one that the dealer overseeing the authentication of the work aims to confirm in a report that it plans to publish in early 2022..

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