A painting that is still facing a heated attribution debate will be displayed alongside authenticated works in a Milanese museum. The painting will have a disclaimer below, noting the controversy.
A painting that may have been made by baroque master Caravaggio will go on display alongside authenticated works in the Brera Art Gallery in Milan starting Thursday.
The possible Caravaggio piece depicts a biblical scene – the beheading of Assyrian general Holofernes by Judith – and was in incredibly good condition when it was found in an attic in Toulouse, France in 2014. Experts at the time valued the 400-year-old piece at 120€ million ($132 million).
But specialists have seriously debated the authenticity of the painting, saying it could come from Flemish contemporary Louis Finson. Brera Art Gallery director James Bradburne defended including the piece, saying Monday one of the museum's missions is "to be a laboratory for creating new knowledge."
"If we are not that, we are just a big shed with some stuff on the walls," said Bradburne.
In a compromise with critics, the painting will hang alongside a copy of the Caravaggio by Finson, who was known to have had the original before it went missing, and have a disclaimer below saying the attribution was a condition of the loan of the piece. It will be a part of a six-painting exhibit that runs through February 5, 2017. Bradburne, who has been Brera director for one year, says experts, not museums, have the responsibility to determine attribution.
"No scholar on the planet can decide to bring five masterpieces and stick them together in his bedroom so he can look, or she can look, to see if it is what it says it is going to be. Only museums can do that," said Bradburne.
That was not enough for one member of the museum's advisory board. Art historian Giovanni Agosti resigned from the board over the controversy.
kbd/kl (AFP, AP)