Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio. This is the missing Caravaggio thought to be lost for some 200 years, the unsuspected masterpiece hung in benign neglect over the fireplace in the Jesuits’ dining room in Leeson Street. It makes you wonder how many other ‘lost’ masterpiece’s might be out there? & begs the question. .What other major works of art do we actually know about or are cataloged as such in our many Church’s & Cathedral’s across Ireland?

There are seven figures in the painting, from left to right: St John, Jesus, Judas, two soldiers, a man (a self-portrait of Caravaggio), and a soldier. They are standing, and only the upper three-quarters of their bodies are depicted. The figures are arrayed before a very dark background, in which the setting is disguised. The main light source is not evident in the painting but comes from the upper left. There is a lantern being held by the man at the right (Caravaggio). At the far left, a man (St John) is fleeing; his arms are raised, his mouth is open in a gasp, his cloak is flying and being snatched back by a soldier.

By the late 18th century, the painting was thought to have disappeared, and its whereabouts remained unknown for about 200 years. In 1990, Caravaggio’s lost masterpiece was recognized in the residence of the Society of Jesus in Dublin, Ireland. The exciting rediscovery was published in 1993.

The painting had been hanging in the Dublin Jesuits’ dining room since the early 1930s but had long been considered a copy of the lost original by Gerard van Honthorst, also known as Gherardo delle Notti, one of Caravaggio’s Dutch followers. This erroneous attribution had been made while the painting was in the possession of the Roman Mattei family, whose ancestors had originally commissioned it. In 1802, the Mattei sold it, as a work by Honthorst, to William Hamilton Nisbet, in whose home in Scotland it hung until 1921. Later in that decade, still unrecognised for what it was, the painting was sold to an Irish pediatrician, Marie Lea-Wilson, who eventually donated it in 1934 to the Jesuit Fathers in Dublin, in gratitude for their support following the murder of her husband, Capt. Percival Lea-Wilson, a District Inspector in the Royal Irish Constabulary in Gorey, County Wexford, by the Irish Republican Army on 15 June 1920.

The Taking of Christ remained in the Dublin Jesuits’ possession for about 60 years, until it was spotted and recognised as at least an old copy of a Caravaggio, in the early 1990s, by Sergio Benedetti, Senior Conservator of the National Gallery of Ireland, while he was visiting the Jesuit Fathers in order to examine a number of paintings for the purposes of restoration. As layers of dirt and discoloured varnish were removed, the high technical quality of the painting was revealed, and it was tentatively identified as Caravaggio’s lost painting. Much of the credit for verifying the authenticity of this painting belongs to Francesca Cappelletti and Laura Testa, two graduate students at the University of Rome. During a long period of research, they found the first recorded mention of The Taking of Christ, in an ancient and decaying account book documenting the original commission and payments to Caravaggio, in the archives of the Mattei family, kept in the cellar of a palazzo in the small town of Recanati.

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