Caravaggio picture

Ecce Homo, 1605-9, by Michelangelo Merisi (known as Caravaggio) will be on loan to the Prado Museum from May 28. Image courtesy of a private collection.

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Ecce Homo, 1605-9, by Michelangelo Merisi (known as Caravaggio) had a detailed provenance from the 17th to 19th century, including in the private collection of Philip IV of Spain in 1664. By 1821, Spanish diplomat Evaristo Pérez de Castro Méndez (1769-1849), who was a member of the Madrid museum Academia de San Fernando, received the picture in exchange for other paintings. It remained with the family and was offered at Ansorena auction house in April 2021 when it was attributed to a pupil of José de Ribera.

However The Prado Museum alerted Spain’s Ministry of Culture to the relevance of the painting and it was withdrawn from the sale.

At the time it was variously valued by specialists between €50m-100m.

A detailed two-year intensive authentication, research and restoration process by specialist followed and it was deemed by Caravaggio.


Since then the painting was under the “custodianship” of the art gallery Colnaghi, alongside Filippo Benappi of Benappi Fine Art and Andrea Lullo of Lullo Pampoulides.

The family then sold the picture this year for an undisclosed sum and its new owner is loaning it to the Prado for nine-months. It will be unveiled for a special solo display from May 28 until October this year.

The painting was restored by specialist Andrea Cipriani and his team under the supervision of experts from the Comunidad de Madrid regional government.

Jorge Coll, CEO of Colnaghi, said: “This work presents one of the greatest discoveries in the history of art, and the unveiling at the Prado marks the culmination of several years of collaborative work with many leaders in their respective fields.’’

The picture is one of only about 60 known works by the artist, and shows Roman governor Pontius Pilate presenting Christ to the people (a scene from the Passion of Christ).