"Caravaggio's drawings are made by a vage, unsteady and sketched hand"
Maurizio Bernardelli and Adriana Conconi explain the investigation that allow them to attribute a hundred of drawings to the Milanese master
It could be the discovery of the century. A hundred of drawings that the team led by Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli attributed to Caravaggio could become one of the greatest discoveries in History. If the assertions of these experts are true, the Peterzano Archive where the sketches are conserved, could clear a lot of doubts about the artist's traineeship in Milan.
However, the large number of drawings found, the quick commercial results -two e-books went on sale the day after publicize the find- and the raises doubts among some experts force us to treat that discovery with skepticism. We try to dispel the doubts talking to the protagonists: Bernardelli Curuz and Fedrigolli Conconi, that explain what their study has been during the last two years. Both have conducted "an investigation that has focused on Caravaggio (Bergamo) and Milan, the city where Michelangelo Merisi was a pupil of Simone Peterzano, in 1584- 1588."
The artist's early years have not been studied in depth. We do not know much about his first contacts with the painting, when he formed in the workshop of the master of Bergamo. Taking this data as a reference, Bernardelli and Conconi began their investigations in the Peterzano Archive, preserved in the Sforza Castle since 1924. They thought that maybe between the master's drawings could have also been preserved some studies of his disciples.
"We found a strong unity in the Archive, within which are easy to identify three different hands," the experts explain. "After extracting with absolute certainty the Peterzano's sketches, we divide the remaining works according to the ductus graph. Thus was formed a uniform body of more than 100 drawings. " A hundred drawings who they attributed now to Caravaggio and consider "sketches of an apprentice that are characterized by a vague, unsteady and sketched hand, which denote a training phase."
It is fair to say that other experts had already referred to the pre-Caravaggesque style of some of these sketches, but no one had dared to go as far as Bernardelli and Fedrigolli. They claim they have found Caravaggio's canon from his early works in Rome: "In the portraits he made in those days there is a constant distance between the different anatomical parts of the face," both experts affirm. Once they stablished the canon, the verifications began. The Italian art historians compared some graphic works to Merisi's famous paintins. "The results were shocking," they say, "almost all drawings had a pictorial correspondence. A Irrefutable proof was the repetition of some mistakes visible in these pictures of youth and in those of his maturity. It should be noted in this regard, the painter's inability to draw correctly the snout of oxes. Another common mistake refers to a foot morphology, Caravaggio repeated in his drawings in Milan and in the Depossition from the Cross at the Vatican Museums. "
Despite these inaccuracies, the Italian master reveals from the beginning he is "a painter with a great capacity to fix the structures of the face." According to Bernardelli and Fedrigolli, when Caravaggio arrived at Rome in the early decade of '90, he carried a repertoire of models, gestures and anatomy that will repeat throughout his career. The experts claim Michelangelo Merisi "did not paint from life, he got his great naturalism based on the faces, heads and characters that had developed in Milan ".
This statement contrasts with the logical stylistic evolution expected of all painters, especially if it is a master like Caravaggio. On the other hand, the expert Gianni Papi believes that the artist did not do preparatory studies when he reached the capital. In addition, he considers "difficult to accept that Michelangelo Merisi have used throughout his career sketches made when he was an apprentice in Peterzano's workshop."
It seems likely that among the drawings of the artist's workshop could appear a Caravaggio's study, but it's hard to believe that all of them were made by the Milanese master. Sol G. Moreno