Museum  May 7, 2024  Carlota Gamboa

Prado to Display Newly Discovered Caravaggio Painting

Museo del Prado

Michelangelo Merisi (Caravaggio), Ecce Homo, around 1605-09. Detail.

A small painting depicting Jesus in a crown of thorns before crucifixion will go on view at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid (The Prado Museum) by the end of the month. Valued at around €1,500 by a Madrid auction house in 2021, the piece was originally thought to be from the “circle of José de Ribera,” a 17th century Spanish painter. However, experts didn’t let the painting remain in the catalog for very long. 

As reported by The Art NewspaperEcce Homo (circa 1605-109) was swiftly retrieved after Prado Museum officials stated there was “sufficient stylistic and documentary evidence” suggesting it was actually done by Baroque super-star Caravaggio. An export ban was placed on the work by the Spanish government, and the London-based gallery, Colnaghi, oversaw the work’s authentication.

Museu del Prado

Michelangelo Merisi (Caravaggio), Ecce Homo, around 1605-09

Maria Cristina Terzaghi, a history of modern art professor at the University of “Roma Tre," and Giuseppe Porzio, an art history professor at the University of Naples, have also played a part in the artwork’s substantiation. Terzaghi stated, “the speed of consensus around the work being a Caravaggio upon its rediscovery was absolutely unprecedented in the critical history of the painter [about whom] scholars have rarely agreed, at least in the last 40 years.”

Caravaggio, 1597.

Caravaggio, "Medusa", 1597

Documentation of the artwork’s provenance includes it as a part of Philip IV of Spain’s private collection dating back to 1664. Between the years 1701 and 1702, Ecce Homo could be found in the apartment of the King’s son, Charles II. The piece was then exhibited at The Real Casa del Palacio del Buen Retiro in 1789, before it began to rapidly change hands. 

As per a press statement by The Prado Museum, by 1821, “Evaristo Pérez de Castro Méndez, the Spanish diplomat and honorary member of the Academia de San Fernando, received the Caravaggio in exchange for other paintings gifted to the fine arts academy. It remained with the family until it changed ownership in 2024.” The new owner has chosen to remain anonymous, but is generously lending The Prado Museum this new Carvaggio to be put on display from May 28th through October. 

About the Author

Carlota Gamboa

Carlota Gamboa is an art writer based in Los Angeles.

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