When Apollo the Luteplayer was sold in a 2001 sale at Sotheby’s New York, the catalogue listed it as the possible work of 17th Century artist Carlo Magnone. It was thought to be a copy of a Caravaggio painting that currently hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A second, similar version of the same painting resides in Russia’s Hermitage Museum.

However, a 17th Century description of a Caravaggio painting by biographer Giovanni Baglione corresponds exactly to Apollo the Luteplayer. After the canvas was cleaned and x-rays photographs were taken, changes and corrections that suggested that the painting’s originality became visible. Sir Denis Mahon, an expert on 16th and 17th century Italian art who initially said the painting was not by Caravaggio, now maintains its authenticity as an original.

It is not rare or even exceptional for artists to paint several versions of the same painting. Many famous artists, including Leonardo DaVinci and John Singleton Copley. Consider the case of Gilbert Stuart. After he painted George Washington’s portrait in April 1796 he went on to duplicate his painting 72 times.

Caravaggio Discovery: Apollo the Luteplayer

If you own a painting that appears to be a fine copy, it is worth an investigation into the possibility that it might be a duplicate original. To learn more, contact us


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