Caravaggio and Loches. An Andalusian Footnote to the Debate

Spain, First Third of the XVIIth Century, after Caravage
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
Oil on Canvas (The painting hangs too high up to be measured)
Jérez de la Frontera, Cathedral of San Salvador
Photo : Pierre Curie

The affair has been discussed and the debate now closed : in nearly six years, none of the Caravaggio specialists has considered or published the two paintings from Loches as originals despite their prestigious pedigree, a logical consequence of their mediocre quality.

A visit to the Cathedral of San Salvador in Jérez de la Frontera in Andalusia enabled us to examine, over the sacristy door, another very interesting copy of The Incredulity of Saint Thomas in Potsdam, no doubt from the first third of the 17th century, with an added number of truculent figures. The rather awkward style, not far removed from the coarseness of the Loches canvases, reminded us of another local Andalusian painter (someone like Pablo Legot ?), however, the presence of this copy of a model located in Rome until about 1815 so close to the port of Cadiz raises the question of the success, which in Spain was precocious, of Caravaggio’s compositions and the importation of copies or originals by the Lombard master.
Whatever the case, it would be interesting to have a complete study of copies after Caravaggio, contemporaneous to the artist or shortly after his death, held in Italy and in the rest of Europe as his works were almost never engraved during his lifetime. A comparative census would allow us to establish (or not) the presence of secondary studios specialized in this type of reproductions (since Caravaggio did not really have more than two or three students, Manfredi perhaps, Minniti almost certainly). Some of the master’s compositions were frequently copied, others much less so, such as the Francis of Assissi in Ecstasy, today at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, and for which there is a rare old copy recently discovered by Pierre Rosenberg storage at the Musée Bossuet in Meaux.

Version française

Pierre Curie, vendredi 23 décembre 2011

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