Entertainment & Arts

Vatican paper dismisses own Caravaggio claims

"Martyrdom of St Lawrence is unveiled
Image caption The painting was unveiled to the public on Tuesday morning

The Vatican's leading art historian has dismissed claims made in its newspaper that a painting found in a Jesuit church in Rome is a Caravaggio.

An article on the front page of the paper, headlined "a new Caravaggio", highlighted similarities between the work and that of the Italian master.

Now Vatican Museums head Antonio Paolucci has responded in a piece headlined "new Caravaggio? Not really".

He said it was of "modest" quality, painted with "inadequate" technique.

The original newspaper article, printed in L'Osservatore Romano on Saturday 17 July, featured a photograph of the painting which shows St Lawrence being burned to death with his executioners in the background.

While that article pointed out elements that were typical of Caravaggio's style - including the piece's perspective - it conceded that no known document about the painter mentioned St Lawrence.

Mr Paolucci, a former Italian culture minister, said hands were "wrong in their perspective", anatomies were "awkward" and nudes in the background were "disjointed".

"The quality isn't there whereas, in a Caravaggio, it always is."

Caravaggio's quality was high even when the artist "uses maximum carelessness and a minimum of his expressive resources", Mr Paolucci added.

The painting was unveiled to the public on Tuesday morning at the church in Rome.

Italy has been marking the 400th anniversary of Caravaggio's death with a series of events and exhibitions.

The artist died at the age of 39 in 1610 in the town of Porto Ercole.

Four years earlier, Caravaggio, who was often involved in street violence, went on the run after he killed a man in a brawl.

His works include Bacchus, The Supper at Emmaus and Sacrifice of Isaac.

In June, a group of Italian researchers said human remains found in a church in Tuscany almost certainly belonged to Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

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