Weekly Roundup: Caravaggio Masterpiece Identified, New Munch Museum Approved and More


In case you missed it, here’s what made headlines in the art world this week:

Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting ‘Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy’ identified
The long-lost Caravaggio painting that the baroque master had with him when he died in 1610 has finally been identified, according to the world’s foremost authority on the artist. Several copies of Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy are thought to exist. But now the Caravaggio scholar Mina Gregori has saif she is confident on having made a “definitive” verification of the version that she has studied in a private European collection. Ms. Gregori said key characteristics of the painting, namely the wonderful variations in light and color, left no doubts in her mind regarding its provenance. The discovery of a handwritten note attached to the back of the painting, attributing it to Caravaggio, and denoting it is a commission by one of his important patrons, Cardinale Scipione Borghese of Rome, was the final proof. The family, who contacted Ms. Gregori for the authentification, have said they have no idea of selling it. [The Independent]

New Munch Museum finally approved
Oslo city politicans finally approved the long-awaitd, hotly contested project to build a new Munch Museum, replacing the current museum in the city’s Tøyen district. The new museum that will rise next to the Opera House on Oslo’s eastern waterfront is budgeted to cost $430 million. It’s taken politicians several years to agree on the investment in a new museum to house the vast collection of paintings and other works that the city inherited from Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. Then it took more time to settle on where it would be located. A clear majority approved the so called “Lambda” glass high-rise design that won the architectural competition for the museum, despite some surprise last minute objections by several contemporary Norwegian artists. Construction is due to start next year with the museum expected to be ready to receive Munch’s art from the Tøyen site in 2018. It’s scheduled to open to the public in 2019. [Views and News from Norway]

Vatican sheds new light on Sistine Chapel’s masterpieces
The Vatican has unveiled a high-tech lighting and air conditioning system to better preserve and display the famous frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. The new air conditioning aims to reduce the damage to the frescoes from dust, and from the breath, sweat and heat of some six million annual visitors. The new illumination system, comprised of 7,000 LED lights, saves energy and highlights neglected features. Some of these lights aim to show off the deep blue background of The Last Judgement, a ceiling painting by Michelangelo. Others highlight frescoes by artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Perugino, and Domenico Ghirlandaio, whose Sistine Chapel work has been overshadowed by Michelangelo’s. The new lighting system took three years to install and cost a total of $3.8 million. [BBC News]

Christie’s copies eBay’s ‘buy it now’ model’
An upcoming sale at Christie’s London titled ‘Buy or Bid will allow patrons to purchase lots at a fixed price, the auction house announced in a release. Billed as “a new approach to buying,” the price-tag model, though alien to 250 years of institutional history at Christie’s, mimics eBay’s “Buy it Now” feature, which affixed a purchase price to an auction listing. The auction itself will feature a wide selection of holiday gifts, with the 42 lots ranging from artworks, to jewelry, and household decorative objects priced anywhere from £1,040 to £13,000. Christie’s Buy or Bid will run from November 14th to December 3rd. Any works not sold during the auction will head to an Interiors department sale on December 9th. [Hyperallergic]

Broad museum sets sights on fall 2015 opening in downtown Los Angeles
Eli Broad‘s contemporary art museum is now set to open sometime in fall of 2015, organizers said on Tuesday. The expected 2014 debut of the Broad, currently rising in downtown Los Angeles, was scratched earlier this year because of construction delays related to the building’s complex exterior. The $140-million museum will feature 120,000 square feet of space, with two floors dedicated to exhibiting art from the Broad’s art collection. It will offer mostly free admission to the public, but will charge for temporary special exhibitions. The Broad will have a collection featuring more than 2,000 individual works by approximately 200 artists, including a recently acquired piece by L.A. artist Jordan Wolfson. The museum will also serve as headquarters for the Broad Art Foundation’s lending library of contemporary works. [Los Angeles Times]

Long lost masterpiece discovered in French attic comes to auction
A long-lost painting by John Duncan Fergusson, who is considered the most experimental of the Scottish colorists, will be among highlights at Christie’s Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale on November 19th. Two works by the artist were recently rediscovered in France by a brother and sister who were sorting through the contents of the attic of their family home in Giverny. The pair’s grandparents lived in the area at the turn of the century, when it was home to a community of painters, most notably, Claude Monet, with whom they were acquainted. Leading the evening sale will be Poise, a 1916 Fergusson portrait that has not been publicly exhibited since the artist’s 1918 exhibition at Connell Gallery, where it was his most highly priced work. At Christie’s, it is expected to sell for $128,00-192,000. [artnet news]

Image: Edvard Munch, “The Scream” c. 1895