From Patrick at Popehat comes news of a blockbuster art theft. Someone with no intention of selling the thing, and every intention of savoring it (or perhaps eliciting ransom for it), has contracted a crack team of pane-removing window climbers to cut from its frame a priceless Caravaggio:
The interesting detail here is that the person who commissioned the black bag operation is no connoisseur. The painting by Caravaggio, commissioned by Ciriaco Mattei, created around 1602, and documented within that generation, is most assuredly the one safely hanging in Dublin.
The stolen painting is a copy.
The very good copy in Odessa, closer to the original than any of the other half dozen seventeenth century copies, is probably not an autograph replica. Instead it may well be the copy Asdrubale Mattei commissioned from the otherwise unknown artist Giovanni di Attili.
Or is it?
For the gritty details from the pen of the fellow who cleaned and authenticated the Dublin piece, see Sergio Benedetti, “Caravaggio’s ‘Taking of Christ’, a Masterpiece Rediscovered”, The Burlington Magazine #135:1088 (Nov. 1993), pp. 731-741.
For a contrary view, and to gain a sense of how diplomacy and collegial relationships taint connoisseurship, see Peter Conrad, “In search of the real Caravaggio“.