Art-Test e-News
July 2012 - Issue No. 7


While in Italy we keep talking about the alleged attribution to Caravaggio of a hundred drawings, Brazil welcomes with extraordinary enthusiasm the temporary exhibition "Caravaggio and his followers" that includes 6 paintings of the Master and 14 works of the "Caravaggeschi", i.e. followers of his manner, who lived during his time and were deeply inspired by him (to know more about all the exhibited artworks, click here, under "Material Complementar ").
Extended until July 22 at Fiat Casa de Cultura in Belo Horizonte, the exhibition will then move from August 1st  to September 23rd  in the prestigious MASP - Art Museum of Sao Paulo - the most important art center in Latin America -  and from there it will be transferred to Argentina, to the Museo Nacional in Buenos Aires on December 15th, 2012.
The prime mover of the exhibition is Rossella Vodret, one of the leading experts on Caravaggio in Italy and Head of the “Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico Artistico per il Polo Museale della Città di Roma”. In Italy the curator is George Leone, and in Brazil Fabio Malgahaes. A very important cultural appointment for a country, Brazil, that actively seeks to strengthen exchange of experiences with Italy, which is among the top five countries in terms of visiting tourists.
The aim of this temporary exhibition is to highlight the revolutionary way of painting of Caravaggio and the transformations that visual art underwent in the early seventeenth century in Rome. It is a unique opportunity to see, gathered together, a series of masterpieces created in that context and otherwise not easily presented to the international public.
Furthermore, as stated in its title "Caravaggio and his followers: confirmations and problems", the event is also an important occasion to update the overview on the scientific studies on Caravaggio and his followers.
In this perspective, we gladly highlight the extensive catalog of the exhibition, which stands as a useful and comprehensive study tool.
The volume analyzes in detail each artwork on display. It illustrates the reasons for the proposal of attribution, if still uncertain, and it offers a unique insight into how the artist worked and thought, through the diagnostic investigation carried out on the canvas and illustrated in the volume, presenting data and technical analysis of traces lost over the centuries, hidden by layers of paint or varnish, and eventually brought back to light by restoration or diagnostic tests.
Art-Test takes an active part in this, having provided a detailed contribution to the catalog. The scientific investigations on the exhibited work "Portrait of Cardinal", from the Uffizi’s Collection, were carried out by our labs, and a summary of their interpretation is to be found in the volume.
For information about the exhibition click on the picture above.

In the catalog it is explained how the canvas, which is part of the Gioviana’s Series in the Uffizi, was attributed to Caravaggio by John Spike in 1995, and how it was recently confirmed in this proposal by Gianni Papi, who also recognizes in the portrait, not the Cardinal Baronius, as stated by the writing,  but Benedetto Giustiniani.
Moreover, the volume allows us to read in details the outcomes of the diagnostic procedure performed by Art-Test Florence, and to discover the interesting features which came to light.
There we can read about an unusual specific weight of the artwork; about the outcomes of the analysis of pigments, thanks to the ED-XRF technique; and observe how the canvas certainly underwent extensive restoration with adjustments, in the IR reflectography and UV fluorescence images, which show such important changes.
But the most interesting observation is undoubtedly derived from the analyses performed with the patented Multilayer method. This unique technique permits to visualize the several different layers of the painting.  In this case the image in Layer 5 shows the clear reading of a pre-existing text and, in Layer 7, the sketch of the Master, who clearly defined the contours of the cardinal's robe, with a hood-style neck.
Of course, we do not wish to anticipate more about the technical data and related images, which are presented in the catalog. We wish scholars and anybody else interested in Caravaggio a good reading!
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