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New Caravaggio? Probably not

Updated on August 14, 2010

In another hub, I reported the news that a new painting by Caravaggio could have been found. The Vatican newspaper L'osservatore romano gave the news on July 18th, 2010. The panting portrays the martyrdom of St. Lawrence. Unfortunately, experts and critics are now unanimous in saying that the painting cannot be by Caravaggio.

Why? Well, first of all, the contrast beween bright and dark -- which is typical of Caravaggio's paintings -- is too coarse and isn't subtle enough. The figures in the painting are often traversed by shadows but those shadows have no depth, nor do they carry any expressivity.

Second, there are "grammatical" errors in perspective and proportion. For instance, one of the arms of St. Lawrence is painted in an unnatural pose.

Third, the painting is at time too realistic, even sarcastic and vulgar, in a way that cannot be Caravaggio's. A character in the back covers his nose with disgust, evidently because he is disturbed by the smoke emanating from the wooden board on which the Saint is burning. Another character, standing on the right of St. Lawrence in the painting, has an erection. It is as if the painter was making fun of the seriousness of the religious subject -- something that Caravaggio would not have done.

Yet there is one interesting innovation in the painting that is worth pointing out. St. Lawrence is looking down, towars the flames burning his body. In paintings representing martyrdom, it is more common, instead, for the the Saint to look up, towards his salvation and his maker.


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    • SaMcNutt profile image

      SaMcNutt 7 years ago from Englewood, CO

      Wow, great points. Glad to see the whole piece. I wonder if artist meant to mock Caravaggio. Very interesting.