A Reaction to Pierre Curie’s Article : "Caravage et Loches. Une Apostille andalouse au débat"

1. Spain, First Third of the XVIIth century, after Caravage
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
Oil on Canvas (Unknown Dimensions)
Jérez de la Frontera, Cathedral of San Salvador
Photo : Pierre Curie

I read Pierre Curie’s remarks in The Art Tribune (see article) pointing out a copy of The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio at the Cathedral of Jérez de la Frontera (ill. 1), with great interest. I would, in turn, like to remark upon a curious and very interesting element : the use by this anonymous painter of at least two apostles among the other figures surrounding the central scene, from the series we shall call "from the cartellini" in the Master of the Judgement of Solomon, today identified with the young Ribera in Rome. We refer to the Saint Thomas held at the Budapest Museum (ill. 2) and the Saint Matthew, in a private collection in Paris (ill. 3).
These two instances are obviously quite intriguing. Was Ribera’s Apostolado (or a copy) present in Spain ? Was the copy of The Incredulity of Saint Thomas executed in Rome then sent to Spain ? Are the other figures possible replicas of Ribera’s other apostles (the Apostolado is only partially known) ? We cannot, for the moment, elucidate these questions.

2. Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652)
(Formerly the Master of the Judgement of Solomon)
Saint Thomas
Oil on Canvas
Budapest, Szépm ?vészeti Múzeum
Photo : D. R.

3. Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652)
(Formerly the Master of the Judgement of Solomon)
Saint Matthew
Oil on Canvas
Paris, Private Collection
Photo : D. R.

As concerns the study of Caravaggio’s copies which Pierre Curie suggests, I have compiled a list of a number of these in the course of my current research on Caravaggism in Spain for the Iberian peninsula (and will now add the one in Jérez as well !). Contrary to what has sometimes been said in the past, the presence of works or copies of works by the Lombard master in Spain is neither sporadic nor anecdotal. The viceroys in Naples were voracious in their search for paintings by Caravaggio which they then took with them when they returned to Spain. In the same way, old sources mention and identify a significant number of originals and copies by the master in Spanish churches and collections already in the early 17th century.

4. After Caravage
Saint Jerome Writing
Oil on Canvas
Evora, Museu
Photo : Guillaume Kientz

5. After an Anonymous Painter of the XVIIth Century
Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence
Oil on Canvas (Unknown Dimensions)
Ségovie, Cathedral of Santa María
Photo : Guilllaume Kientz

Finally, to round out this "Andalusian footnote", I would like to take the liberty of pointing out two other paintings which are not well known. The first is a copy after Saint Jerome Writing from the Galleria Borghese (ill. 4), held at the Evora Museum in Portugal. The second one, hanging in the Segovia Cathedral, is a Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence (ill. 5) with a composition identical to the pseudo Caravaggio at the Jesuits in Rome published by the Osservatore Romano on 17 July 2010 (see this article in The Art Tribune). This is perhaps a picture of a lost original, in any case, at the moment it is simply a real copy of a fake Caravaggio...

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Guillaume Kientz, samedi 24 décembre 2011

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