The Klesch Collection is delighted to announce its most important acquisition to date, Portrait of a Gentleman, Bust-Length, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, painted c. 1604-1606. It is one of only a handful of paintings by Caravaggio in private hands.
Currently, Caravaggio is one of the most sought-after artists in the world, yet few works, especially portraits, are known today, many being lost or fallen into obscurity. While elegantly subdued, this portrait has all the compelling characteristics of Caravaggio. It demonstrates his pictorial efficiency in the precise use of highlights and clear purpose of every brushstroke, particularly evident in the sitter’s glistening eyes and the geometric collar. The bright ruff effectively emphasizes the sitters head and piercing gaze, pervading his self-assured and calm demeanour. Echoing the collar, Caravaggio uses the accent cuff to draw attention to the life-like flesh of the hand in the foreground.
Mina Gregori was the first to recognise Caravaggio’s authorship of this painting, and published it in an article in Corriere de la Serra on 27 June 1993 and subsequently in her book Caravaggio in 1994. Her attribution was soon endorsed by the other leading Caravaggio scholars. In line with The Klesch Collection’s disciplined acquisition strategy, we engaged several Caravaggio scholars to view the painting and provide The Klesch Collection with an attribution report. We are pleased to say all scholars concurred that the painting is by Caravaggio.
Caravaggio’s exceptional portrait introduces us to a gentleman whose story is yet to be uncovered. During its previous private ownership of nearly 25 years, the painting has never been exhibited or studied by scholars first hand. The portrait is not only a remarkable addition to his oeuvre, but also opens an intriguing new line of research into Caravaggio’s artistic practice, which The Klesch Collection is proud to support and explore.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Caravaggio 1571 – 1609 Porto Ercole)
Portrait of a Gentleman, Bust-Length
oil on canvas
74.3 x 58.8 cm. (29.2 x 23.1 in.)
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