A British resident in Spain buys Caravaggio’s ‘Ecce Homo’ for 36 million euros. ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง

A British resident in Spain buys Caravaggio’s ‘Ecce Homo’ for 36 million euros. ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง
๐Ÿ’ถ Neither the State nor the Community of Madrid exercised the right of first refusal. โŒ
The new owner will lend the work to the Prado Museum for nine months. ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ
๐Ÿ•˜ Andrea Cipriani will restore the ‘Ecce Homo’ attributed to Caravaggio. ๐ŸŽจ

The ‘Ecce Homo’ of Caravaggio, before restoration, during the work, and after restoration (courtesy of a private collection). ๐Ÿ“ธ

There had been no news of Caravaggio’s ‘Ecce Homo’ for a while. โณ
The last update on the famous painting – in April 2021, it was to be auctioned at the Ansorena gallery in Madrid as a ‘Crowning with Thorns’ from the Circle of Ribera, with a starting price of 1,500 euros – was that its restoration had been completed. ๐Ÿ›๏ธ
๐Ÿ’ฐ As ABC reported, the restoration was carried out in Madrid by Italian specialist Andrea Cipriani and his team under the supervision of experts from the Community of Madrid. ๐Ÿ—๏ธ
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น At the 2023 Tefaf fair in Maastricht, Jorge Coll, CEO of Colnaghi, hinted that “there will be news in April or May, and it will be very good.” ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ
๐Ÿ“ˆ However, the general elections in Spain in July delayed the announcement of the Caravaggio news. ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ

Today, the Prado Museum has announced that the painting has a new owner (previously, it belonged to the Pรฉrez de Castro brothers, who inherited it from their ancestor, Evaristo Pรฉrez de Castro) and that it will be exhibited at the museum for nine months. ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ
๐Ÿ›๏ธ ABC confirmed that the new owner is a British citizen residing in Spain (since the painting was declared BIC by the Community of Madrid on December 22, 2021, and cannot be exported, except temporarily under exceptional circumstances). ๐Ÿก
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ The price was 36 million euros, much below Caravaggio’s market value, likely due to its inexportability. ๐Ÿ’ถ

Could the Spanish State have acquired the painting? ๐Ÿค”
As a Bien de Interรฉs Cultural, both the Spanish State (through the Ministry of Culture) and the Community of Madrid had the option to exercise their right of first refusal (if they match the offer, they get the work), but neither did. โŒ
The proposed price was 34.4 million euros. ๐Ÿ’ฐ
The State might have used extraordinary credits, agreements with IBEX companies and patrons, or payment in kind to acquire the painting. ๐Ÿฆ
๐Ÿ“œ Acquiring a Caravaggio, with only 60 known works, is a rare opportunity. ๐ŸŽจ
โœจ The highest price the State has paid for an artwork was 4 billion pesetas (about 24 million euros) for Goya’s ‘The Countess of Chinchรณn’ for the Prado Museum. ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ
๐Ÿ’ถ Additionally, the Government agreed to rent the Carmen Thyssen collection for 6.5 million euros annually for 15 years, totaling 97.5 million euros without owning the collection. ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ

The new owner of ‘Ecce Homo’ will lend it to the Prado for nine months. ๐Ÿ›๏ธ
๐Ÿ•˜ It will be displayed in a special installation from May 28 until October 2024, then integrated into the permanent exhibition until the loan period ends. ๐Ÿ“…
๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ “The Prado played a crucial role in recovering this work by alerting the Ministry of Culture to its importance, preventing its export. Thanks to the current owner’s generosity, the Prado now offers the public and the scientific community access to an exceptional work by one of the greatest painters in history,” says Miguel Falomir, Prado director, in a museum statement. ๐ŸŽจ

It seemed likely that the work would end up at the Prado (or even the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, from where it originated), but not as a temporary loan. ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ
๐Ÿ“ It was surprising that the painting was not restored at the Prado’s workshop. ๐Ÿ›๏ธ
The Prado alerted the Ministry of Culture to the painting’s significance. ๐Ÿ“ข
Jorge Coll mentioned in a 2021 ABC interview, “The Prado is a good option, but we must consider the owners’ interests.” ๐Ÿค

Claudio Falcucci, a nuclear engineer, conducted a thorough diagnostic investigation. โš›๏ธ

The painting has been under the care of Colnaghi gallery, in collaboration with Filippo Benappi (Benappi Fine Art) and Andrea Lullo (Lullo Pampoulides). ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ
๐Ÿค Since its auction appearance three years ago, ‘Ecce Homo’ has been one of the greatest art history discoveries, achieving consensus on its authenticity. ๐ŸŽจ
๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ After a detailed diagnostic study by Claudio Falcucci – a nuclear engineer specialized in applying scientific techniques to cultural heritage conservation – an extensive study of the work was conducted by Maria Cristina Terzaghi (Professor of Modern Art History at Roma Tre University and member of the scientific committee of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples), Gianni Papi (art historian and writer), Giuseppe Porzio (art history professor at the University of Naples), and Keith Christiansen (curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). ๐Ÿ–Œ๏ธ
๐Ÿ“š They examined its discovery, provenance, stylistic, technical, and iconographic aspects, critical fortune, and Caravaggio’s legacy in Naples. The four Baroque painting experts share the same certainty: ‘Ecce Homo’ is a masterpiece by the Italian artist. ๐ŸŽจ

The oil painting depicts the historical moment when Roman governor Pontius Pilate presents Christ to the people with the words ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold the Man), a dramatic scene from the Passion as recorded in the Gospel of John (19:5). ๐Ÿ“œ
โœ๏ธ The painting’s presentation and loan announcement to the Prado are accompanied by a publication with essays by Christiansen, Papi, Porzio, and Terzaghi. ๐Ÿ“–
โœ๏ธ Titled ‘Caravaggio: The ‘Ecce Homo’ Unveiled’, the publication provides essential insights into this new addition to Caravaggio’s catalog. ๐Ÿ“š

The painting was part of King Philip IV’s private collection and later owned by Godoy, Secretary of State under King Charles IV. ๐Ÿ‘‘


Caravaggio’s ‘Ecce Homo’ (1605-1609) is possibly first mentioned in a written agreement in Rome between the artist and aristocrat Massimo Massimi, signed on June 25, 1605. ๐Ÿ“œ
โœ๏ธ In 1631, the painting became part of Juan de Lezcano’s collection (secretary to Pedro Fernรกndez de Castro, Spain’s ambassador to Rome until 1616 and later Viceroy of the Palermo court, brother of Francisco de Castro, Viceroy of Naples). ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ
๐Ÿ“œ The work is later mentioned in an inventory prepared for the move to Madrid by Garcรญa de Avellaneda y Haro Delgadillo’s wife. ๐Ÿ“
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Delgadillo was the second Count of Castrillo (1588-1670) and Viceroy of Naples (1653-1659). The ‘Ecce Homo’ subsequently became part of King Philip IV of Spain’s private collection in 1664 and was displayed in his son Charles II’s residence between 1701 and 1702. ๐Ÿ‘‘

Diplomat Evaristo Pรฉrez de Castro received the Caravaggio in exchange for other paintings donated to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. ๐Ÿ–Œ๏ธ

In 1789, the painting was exhibited in the Royal House of the Buen Retiro Palace, until documented in 1816 at the Buenavista Palace in Madrid as part of Manuel Godoy’s collection (1767-1851), Secretary of State under Charles IV and renowned art collector. ๐Ÿ›๏ธ
๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽจ After Godoy’s death, the painting was transferred to the Royal Academy of San Fernando. ๐Ÿ›๏ธ
In 1821, Evaristo Pรฉrez de Castro Mรฉndez (1769-1849), a Spanish diplomat and honorary member of the San Fernando Academy, received the Caravaggio in exchange for other paintings donated to the Academy. ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ
๐Ÿค The work remained in the family until it changed ownership this year. ๐Ÿก
After its rediscovery, it underwent two years of intensive research and restoration. ๐Ÿ”

David Garcรญa Cueto, head of the Prado’s Italian and French painting department up to 1800, explains that this painting “complements very well” the Prado’s Caravaggio, ‘David Victorious over Goliath’: “It is from Caravaggio’s early maturity around 1600, while ‘Ecce Homo’ represents his later years, around 1607-1609.” ๐Ÿ–Œ๏ธ
๐Ÿ“… Jorge Coll, Colnaghi CEO, adds: “In the last hundred years, no artist like Caravaggio, with his adventurous biography and unmistakable style, has fascinated so many people of all ages and attracted so many experts worldwide. ๐ŸŒ

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