Exclusive Report : the Caravaggio Drawings Are in fact by Strozzi, Mignard and Elsheimer !

Articles repeated a hundred times over, thousands of tweets, the information concerning the discovery of Caravaggio’s pseudo drawings (see news item of 5/7/12) fell like a bomb in the art world, spreading its ripple effects particularly on internet. Fortunately, some critical articles are starting to appear, and we are now able to announce an incredible scoop : the drawings which were discovered are not by Caravaggio, nor even Simone Peterzano or his studio. They are by many different artists, some of them among the most famous painters of the 17th century. In almost less than one hour, we were able to identify with almost total certainty the actual names of the authors of three sheets included in the few published drawings, and as credibly as the well known Caravaggio specialists, Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli.

Our first finding, a drawing by Bernardo Strozzi. True, the detail of the painting we reproduce here presents some slight differences with the drawing from the Peterzano holdings (of which we have only a reduced photograph, alas), but no more so than the ones it presents with the Caravaggio painting. On the contrary in fact, the nose is much more similar. Geometrically, we can say this is incontrovertible.

1. A comparison of the head of an Emmaus pilgrim by Caravaggio
and one of the drawings from the Peterzano holdings

2. Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644)
The Prophet Elijah and the Zaraphath Widow (detail)
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

The second finding is truly incredible : a drawing by Pierre Mignard. The comparison is even more convincing here. It is very obvious that the drawing from the Peterzano holdings represents a woman, and not a man. Imagining this is preparatory for the figure of Christ is not believable. However, we see the same sweetness, the same features... All the evidence shows that this drawing is a first study (in reverse, but so is Christ) for Pierre Mignard’s Virgin with Cluster.

3. A comparison of the head of Christ in Caravaggio’s Pilgrims at Emmaus
and one of the drawings from the Peterzano holdings

4. Pierre Mignard (1612-1695)
Virgin with Cluster (detail)
Paris, Musée du Louvre

Final discovery, but there will clearly be others (and we invite The Art Tribune readers to participate in this fascinating scientific study), an authentic drawing by Adam Elsheimer, as demonstrated by the juxtaposition below : True, the nose in the drawing is hooked like that of Caravaggio’s old woman. But the mouth is deep-set like in Elsheimer’s painting.

5. A comparison of the head of Judith’s servant in Judith Beheading Holofernes
and one of the drawings from the Peterzano holdings

6. Adam Elsheimer
Ceres and Stellio, detail
Madrid, Musée du Prado

All of the above is of course false (unfortunately, it seems that we need to point this out). It serves however as an exercice by the absurd to demonstrate the ridiculous nature of the procedure which consists in choosing, among hundreds of drawings, some of those which might be compared to painted compositions and then immediately asserting that these are works by the same artists.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 9 juillet 2012

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