'The Taking of Christ '- One Lost Painting

'The Taking of Christ '- One Lost Painting
The Old Master Italian painter Caravaggio may not be a household name like his contemporary Picasso, but he certainly has earned some notoriety.
Recently, a number of Caravaggios have been re-discovered and accepted by experts to be by the master himself.

"The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew" is a painting that has been in the British Royal Collection and only now has been identified and with further restoration may confirm it to be the Queen’s first Caravaggio. England can boast to having one version of "The Supper at Emmaus" at the National Gallery in London. During a special exhibit last year, I was able to order online a small print from their museum store.

Two paintings attributed to Caravaggio have been found in a French church in the town of Loches. Namely, "Pilgrimage of Our Lord to Emmaus" and "Saint Thomas Putting his Finger on Christ’s Wound." This authentication took many years.

The lost painting that has shaken the art world is "The Taking of Christ" painted in 1602. I was fortunate enough to see this spontaneous and majestic painting at the Mc Mullen Museum of Art at Boston College in Massachusetts in 1999.

Caravaggio’s use of light and shadow is unparalleled. As a spectator, I felt as though I was an accomplice in this dramatic scene of the seizure of Christ. A Hollywood production couldn’t have better staged this encounter, including a cameo appearance by Caravaggio as the boy holding the lamp.

I have read "The Lost Painting - The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece" by Jonathan Harr. The book is based on "The Taking of Christ" painting and it has all the makings of a mystery novel (a lost painting, a fascinating cast of characters, and a race for who will receive accolades for the painting’s discovery).

The history of the "found" painting is that it was discovered in the house of Jesuit priests in Ireland in 1992 by Sergio Benedetti, an art restorer for the National Gallery of Ireland.
Also, two young Italian graduate students, Francesca Cappelletti and Laura Testa were researching some private archives and read about the sale of "The Taking of Christ" in the early 19th century by a Scotsman, Guisseppe Mattei.

The reader is made aware of the difficulties and challenges presented to the art restorer. Not uncommon in the art world, the art historians take credit for the discovery, when in fact, the unlikely art restorer identified the painting as being by Caravaggio.

The story does have a happy ending however. Sergio Benedetti was made curator of Italian Art at the gallery and he traveled with the painting he worked on so passionately when it was exhibited in the U.S., Rome, and London.

I admit to having the "Caravaggio disease" as is mentioned in Harr's book. Perhaps after reading "The Lost Painting" you will better understand why Caravaggio is considered a master painter from the Baroque era.

You can own a print of "The Supper at Emmaus" by Caravaggio.

I highly recommend reading the book "The Lost Painting - The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece."


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