This website knows its origins in 2001.
Extract from the Charter of the Caravaggio Foundation.
aims of the Foundation shall be to strive towards widening and disseminating
knowledge and passion for the life and work of Michelangelo Merisi da
Caravaggio and Art in general:
(i) by fostering and supporting research and education on the artist Caravaggio and his times,
(ii) by promoting and carrying out cultural, educational and research activities of a European and multi-national character on Caravaggio within the context of the historical period in which he lived and worked and his influence on other artists.
(iii) by supporting Malta as a member of the European Union in the promotion and safekeeping of its cultural heritage and promoting its role in cross-cultural, integrated scientific and academic research on Art and its history and
(iv) by fostering and supporting education and Art in general."
Paul Borg Olivier
Edward De Bono
Catherine Sinclair Galea
Marius Zerafa OP, Roberta Lapucci, Mina Gregori, Clovis Witfield, Maurizio Marini, Sir Denis Mahon, Keith Sciberras, Catherine Puglisi, John T. Spike, John Varriano, John Gash, Marco Cardinali, Sara Falconi, Teobaldo Pasquale, Alfredo Aldrovandi, Anna Pelagoti, Paolo Sapori, Paola Caretta, Silvia Proni, Alberto Cottino, Can G. Azzopardi, Alessandro Bagnoli, SACI Mary Beckinsale, Jules Maidoff, Giovanni Trevisan, Birgit Strahle, Sergio Benedetti, Maurizio Spatafora, Ale Masu, David, Mauro deVito, BookLady Renato Parascandolo, Thomas Schneider Vincenzo Pacelli
Why allow an Object of Beauty to become a problem?
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival." C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
"True Art" is detached from any educational, moral or useful function, yet the art world is all about love, rivalry and at times just big business. What makes an otherwise worthless flat surface covered with inexpensive pigment become a priceless object that remains desired by the world's most powerful people?
What distinguishes a fake from a copy; a copy from an original?
Sharing data can reduce doubt.
Scientists use sophisticated forensics tests to look through paintings and when their results prove that a painting is fake, there are no further questions. However positive forensic test results are not enough;- a painting needs to also have the right sensibility. The provenance of a painting is so important that authenticated paintings are sometimes referred to by their provenance;- yet even the correct provenance is often ignored. The sensibility of a painting can only be judged subjectively. It is not surprising that Art appreciation evokes passionate discussion that often generates controversy.
The study of Caravaggio is particularly susceptible to controversies as although he is documented to have been prolific in his output, and there is agreement that Caravaggio painted rapidly, less than 70 paintings are universally accepted as his works. The number of controversies escalate because in spite of the understanding that he worked alone and never had pupils, 'refound' paintings are constantly being proposed as Caravaggios.
In all new proposals there is that "possibility" which often leads owners to carrying out all the available tests thus integrating in human dramas of mysterious tales locked in paint. Paintings with "some possibility" rarely succeed to attract more than 3 minutes of attention. Even when the probabilities are high, authorities still baulk from studying a painting for it requires a huge amount of energy to fend off counterargument which are sometimes absurd but nevertheless made loudly enough to be heard. There is no religious ritual that can anoint the picture. There is no authority that can define with certainty what works are by Caravaggio.
For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Alexander Pope
on the otherhand
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell
How can one reduce unnecessary heartbreak and injustice that are often associated with attributions?
Making data readily available promotes objective discussion.
If one can strip away the prejudices of monetary value, provenance and authorship and still have the painting flow through, the value is plainly priceless. But that noble value does not work for those who need certainty in numbers. Sometimes a price is needed and this is established when an agreement (sale/insurance etc) is made. Particularly true of items sold in auction, the contract price is not necessarily the reasonably estimated value of the painting;- it is the value established by two people bidding against each because they really want the object. Establishing an acceptable estimated price can be difficult.
Who should decide?
The price of a painting should be established by valuers who have adequate experience in Auction rooms/Galleries. Valuers ought to have the support of art historians, restorers and every available expertise. There are many brilliant Scholars, Restorers, Gallery Owners, Art critics, Scientist who have genuine interest in the study and the majority work diligently to present superb papers. The contribution of all these players must be taken into consideration when establishing a price.
All contributors have an agenda that needs to be understood and allowed for. Filtering controversies to extract the valid data is what begs a profound understanding of the artist's work.
The primary aim of this site remains to respect and record every perspective without limiting to only one 'truth'.
This website aims to collect and disseminate data to reduce doubt.
Origin of this study:
The agenda driving this site was an enquiry as to whether the painting shown adjacent was a) painted by Caravaggio or b) if it was painted by a copyist looking at Caravaggio's original or c) if it was indeed by Caravaggio at all.
An 18th century engraving described a similar painting as being Caravaggio's invention. The engraving describes the painting as a Self Portrait that hung in the French King's collection. Few scholars note that such information is by default correct.
The invention was believed to have been Caravaggio's until 1952 when, with the flick of a pen, Elisabeth Du Guy Trappier made some unfounded declarations (such as the King's engraver had taken the liberty of adding a moustache) which were clearly erroneous. Based on Trappier's mistaken statements many assume that this genre is Ribera's and not Caravaggio's.
If the engraving is correct, the understanding of Caravaggio's oeuvre would have to be somewhat reconsidered.
We often seem to be satisfied quoting the little informed biographers of the late seventeenth century, in order to argue against contemporaries. Too often we are happy to move from certainty to certainty without questioning.
A keen fascination as to why Caravaggio's works are still relevent in the 21st century drives this website. We hope to encourage you to share similar data to make this site more comprehensive.
The Site as a Tool:
caravaggio.com provides a platform which links data from all disciplines in its particular structured manner.
Dr. Edward de Bono praised the website as being A Virtual International Museum of Thinking.
caravaggio.com aspires to encourage team-based research, thereby facilitating international partnership projects. It is the scholars, students and other websites who quote caravaggio.com that inspire the greatest encouragement.
Be passionate, remain curious.
Make use of this site to comment (via FaceBook blog) on various paintings or to upload related images and pdf files. Once uploaded you can opt to make the files available to the public.