All antiquarians who dedicate out noble profession to antique paintings have dreamed of finding a Caravaggio.
This is a wish marked not only by the thought of what its sale could mean (retirement) but also for the poetry of discovering great names lost in the time in which we live. Today this is mission impossible, but it was not in the past.
In 1974, a scholar on our own doorstep, from Madrid, found an impressive painting of the martyrdom of Saint Andrew sin a collection in Seville and he bought it on the hunch that it could be one of the few Caravaggios left in Spain. He showed it to the best art historian of the time who rejected it as a good copy of the original lost painting.
Sources show that Caravaggio had painted a Martyrdom of Saint Andrew, but the image did not match the traditional iconography with the saint crucified on an X-shaped cross.
Let us leave books for men with no imagination.
In fact, the historian presented the work at a show in Seville and on the label he could not help putting a question mark after the name Merisi: a simple sign that shows the difference between the eye and the brain when you look at a painting.
The scholar located some British partners who believed his intuition and asked for permission to export the work, which was granted. Today it hangs in the Museum of Cleveland as one of the best Caravaggios in the USA. In our country there are just five.
We now know that in Caravaggio’s time there were treatises which held that Saint Andrew had been crucified on a Latin cross and not the crux decussata. The form can eclipse the background. The grammar crush the voice of the artist. Paintings should be studied up close and not recreated looking for images in books. Let us leave books for men with no imagination, as Proust might have said.