Spain bans export of possible Caravaggio

Prado Museum says "if confirmed, painting interests us"

08 April, 18:09

    The painting 'La Coronación de espinas' attributed to the entourage of José de Ribera which could be an original by Caravaggio The painting 'La Coronación de espinas' attributed to the entourage of José de Ribera which could be an original by Caravaggio

    MADRID - Spanish Culture Minister José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes confirmed Thursday on Twitter that a painting possibly by Caravaggio has been declared "not for export".

    "The painting is valuable," Uribe told Spanish media, adding, "We were fast".

    The painting, titled "La Coronación de espinas" and attributed to the entourage of José de Ribera (17th century), was withdrawn from auction at the Casa Ansorena auction house.

    The work was scheduled for sale at an auction on Thursday at 6 pm in Madrid, with a starting price of 1,500 euros.

    Madrid's Prado Museum has already said it is "interested" in the painting, in the event that it turns out to be an original by Caravaggio, said a museum source.

    The painting has not yet been personally examined by the museum's experts, the source said.

    International academics informed the museum's management about the existence of the painting, and the museum subsequently requested that the culture ministry intervene.

    The ministry declared it not for export, and the Casa Ansorena auction house withdrew it from auction.

    Culture ministry sources said that there needs to be a "thorough technical and scientific study" to verify whether the painting is truly an original by Caravaggio.

    The same sources said that immediately after the culture ministry was informed on Tuesday of the painting's existence, it called an urgent meeting of the ministry's Historical Heritage Assets Classification, Valuation and Export Board, which was held Wednesday.

    The decision to ban export of the painting was then made as a "precautionary measure".

    The ministry asked the Autonomous Community of Madrid to declare the painting an Asset of Cultural Interest, a measure that would allow for the protection of the work while it is being analysed.

    The regional administration has not yet responded to a request for information about this.

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