Newly authenticated Caravaggio masterpiece unveiled at Prado Museum

The Prado Museum has unveiled a newly authenticated painting by 17th-century Italian master Caravaggio, per The work, “Ecce Homo,” depicting the Roman governor Pontius Pilate presenting Christ to the people, is now confirmed as one of approximately 60 known pieces by the renowned artist.

The painting’s journey to recognition has been dramatic. Initially attributed to a lesser-known artist, “Ecce Homo” was nearly sold at auction in 2021 for a mere €1,500 (£1,280). However, just hours before the sale, the Spanish government intervened, prompted by suspicions from Prado experts regarding its true origin.

Three years of meticulous study followed, culminating earlier this month in a triumphant declaration by the Prado Museum. They confirmed “without a doubt” that the piece is an authentic Caravaggio, heralding it as “one of the greatest discoveries in the history of art.”

Caravaggio, celebrated for his revolutionary use of light and shadow to create intense psychological realism, died in 1610 at the age of 38. His works are considered a cornerstone of modern painting. “Ecce Homo” is believed to have originally been part of King Philip IV’s collection, later displayed in the apartments of his son, Charles II.

The painting resurfaced in Madrid in April 2021, mistakenly attributed to a follower of José de Ribera. Following the Prado’s intervention, the Spanish culture ministry halted its sale, leading to the current exhibition.

On display at the Prado until October, the painting will then join the museum’s permanent collection for an additional four months. Spanish media reports that “Ecce Homo” was sold for €36 million (£30.6 million) to a British national residing in Spain. Jorge Coll of London’s Colnaghi gallery, which handled the sale, confirmed to El País that the masterpiece would remain accessible to the public through loans to various institutions.


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