It would seem that the long-lost original of Caravaggio’s ‘Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy’ has been identified by one of the foremost experts on the artist, the Independent reports.
The owners of the work, who live in an unspecified European country, contacted Gregori earlier this year, as they suspected the painting might be a Caravaggio but were unable to verify it as fact. Gregori deciphered a text on the rear of the painting, written in 17th century-era handwriting, in which it is stated that the painting was a commission by one of Caravaggio’s most important patrons: Cardinal Scipione Borghese of Rome – according to the Guardian,
Mina Gregori, president of the Fondazione di Studi di Storia dell’Arte Roberto Longhi in Florence, has stated that she is 100 percent certain that she has found the original version of the masterpiece. “The varying flesh tones of the body, the intensity of the face. The strong wrists and the blackened hands in wonderful variations of color and light – It is Caravaggio,” she told La Repubblica.
Caravaggio is thought to have painted ‘Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy’ in 1606, shortly after the artist fled Rome, following his conviction for murder. In the summer of 1610, the artist set off on a trip from Naples to Rome to receive a papal pardon, carrying the painting with him. He is thought to have become ill in Tuscany and to have died there.
The owners apparently have said they have no intention of selling the masterpiece. But Gregori told the Independent that she was encouraging them to make it available for public exhibition.
There are several different versions of the ‘Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy’. Until now, the version that was considered to be the original was in a private collection in Rome.
The discovery has has caused dispute among art historians as not everyone is totally convinced. Caravaggio expert John Gash, a senior lecturer on art history at the University of Aberdeen, remained cautious and has stated to the Guardian. “This might be it, but without seeing the original painting, I would suggest extreme caution”.