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Spanish Government Grants Protected Status To Alleged Caravaggio

An oil painting, believed to be made by Italian master Caravaggio, has been given special Protected Status by the Spanish government.

Titled ‘The Crowning of Thorns’, the painting is currently in possession of the families of Antonio Pérez de Castro (founder of IADE Design School) and artist Mercedes Méndez Atard. The work first made news when it was pulled from an auction lot days before the scheduled date. Up until date point, it was considered to be made by José de Ribera, a 17th-century painter and an admirer of Caravaggio. As such, the painting had an opening bid of mere 1500 euros.

Caravaggio, Judith Beheading Holofernes (circa 1607). Courtesy of Cabinet Turquin.

The Prado museum, claiming to have found new evidence that the work was by the Italian Baroque master himself, contacted the Spanish Ministry of Culture. Now, the government has granted Protected status on the work. This means quite a few things, like the restriction on the work from getting auctioned. Even if the original owners want to sell it, they would need to inform the government first so that they could match the market price of the work. Thus, the protected status gives art researchers enough time to verify the authenticity of the painting.

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After the work was cleaned of the layers of dirt, many previously-missed similarities emerged with Caravaggio’s style. The lighting technique and theme of Christ all pointed towards the Italian master’s signature style. While granting it the protected status, the Madrid government said: “[The work is] an example of the excellence and pictorial mastery of the Italian naturalism.”