Work probably not a Caravaggio, scholars say
ROME — It seemed too good to be true: the discovery of a painting by Caravaggio during the celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of his death.
Scholars unveiling the painting yesterday concurred that the “Martyrdom of St. Lawrence’’ looked more like the work of one or more of Caravaggio’s followers, not the master himself. This week, the Vatican newspaper, which first suggested the canvas could be the work of Caravaggio, retracted the claim.
The painting will still be subjected to X-ray tests and other analyses to ascertain its attribution. But experts held out little hope that a previously unknown work by the Italian painter has been found.
“It’s a very interesting painting but I believe we can rule out — at least for now — that it’s a Caravaggio,’’ Italy’s art superintendent, Rossella Vodret, said moments before unveiling the painting in the Jesuit church where it has been kept for years.
“There are certain elements that are disconcertingly poor,’’ she added. “The quality of the painting doesn’t hold up.’’
The 72-by-51-inch oil-on-canvas is dominated by the figure of St. Lawrence being grilled to death, his three executioners in the background. The painting features the dramatic chiaroscuro typical of Caravaggio.