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venerdì 17 settembre 2010

Caravaggio: Sacrificio di Isacco (Uffizi, Firenze)

As known, Merisi painted, for Maffeo Barberini, a Sacrificio di Isacco (1603, Florence, Uffizi) where the sacrificial action takes place in full sunlight. In many copies the same subject is treated in night-time light, possibility to hypothesize the existence of a lost archetype by Caravaggio.
Coming from a Neapolitan private collection, this painting was sold by Christie's in 1989 as “copy of Caravaggio”, with an attributive proposal to Tommaso Salini by Giuliano Briganti. The reading of the canvass however was jeopardized by oxidized paints and vast repainting. After the purchase, a first radiographic investigation showed as the knife’s execution overlapped the hand and the sleeve – main topic in the execution technique by Caravaggio. But before the necessary cleaning, the painting disappeared in the antiquarian market’s meanders. Still in 1989 Mina Gregori recognized in the painting in Barbara Piasecka Johnson’s collection Caravaggio autograph of the night-time Sacrificio di Isacco, identifying it with the work inventoried in 1700 among Doña Antonia Cecilia Fernàndez de Hijar’s goods. Provocatively published by Maurice Marini as “copy?”, this work was found in 2006 in Modena private collection. Restored in 1995, it was submitted to diagnostic analysis in 2007. Compared to Johnson’s version’s investigations, the results demonstrate a concomitant free hand execution in the two paintings because of the presence of work in progress homologous repentances. The two autograph versions differentiate in the choice of the night moment, nearer to the dawn in Johnson painting.
A copy of this painting is exhibited in the Cathedral at Castellammare di Stabia. Another one is at Panafiel (Valladolid, Spain), probably sent in his feud by Don Pedro Giron, Spanish ambassador in Rome up to 1616 and probably the first owner of the work. He was also viceroy in Naples, where he left the “night-time” original, once back to Spain in 1620.

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