Restoration and Rediscovery of a Bartolomeo Manfredi in Le Mans

Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582-1622)
The Crowning of Thorns, c. 1615
Oil on canvas - 157 x 233 cm
Le Mans, Musée Tessé
Photo : Musée Tessé

18/2/14 - Restoration - Le Mans, Musée Tessé - The Musée Tessé in Le Mans holds a painting representing The Crowning of Thorns after a composition by Bartolomeo Manfredi, sent by the State in 1799, that is two years before the Chaptal decree which created fifteen museums in the provinces. It had been displayed in Cremona in 1987 at the exhibition "Dopo Caravaggio. Bartolomeo Manfredi e la Manfrediana Methodus" for which the catalogue entry explained that Alfred Moir had published it as authentic in 1976 but that Nicolson asserted that it was a copy, thus a theory that was still supported quite recently.

The work was restored at the C2RMF in 2011-2012 [1] as it presented significant dirt with a very yellowed varnish and multiple repainted areas. Finding it generally well preserved despite certain worn spots, Pierre Curie considered it to be of excellent quality and thought it might be the original after all. He then consulted several specialists, including Jean-Pierre Cuzin and Gianni Papi who confirmed the work’s authenticity.
This rediscovery is important as Manfredi’s paintings are particularly rare in our country. This is the third one residing in France along with Christ Chasing the Merchants from the Temple in Libourne (recently exhibited in Montpellier) and The Triumph of David over Goliath purchased over twenty years ago by the Louvre, and also a fourth one if we consider a Saint John the Baptist at the Louvre which is only attributed to Manfredi.

The restoration of this canvas now enables the Musée Tessé to display it alongside The Drinkers painted by a French disciple of the Manfrediana Methodus, Nicolas Tournier. The Crowning of Thorns will also be the subject of an exhibition from 24 March to 24 May 2014.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 18 février 2014


[1] Lucia Guirguis and Madeleine Fabre for the pictorial layer and Emmanuel Joyerot for the support.

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