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Question of attribution

11 January 2012


From Dr William Stewart

Sir, — In his review of the extraordinarily rich exhibition of early-17th-century Roman art (Arts, 30 December), the Revd Dr Nicholas Cranfield is wrong to claim that the St Gregory the Great from the Giustiniani family is still thought to be a Venetian work.

In the exhibition, it was shown to be an early work of the Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera, and not of Carlo Saraceni, to whom it was attributed in the 2001 Milan show of that collection.

In the saga of Saraceni versus Ribera, the picture has, in the past decade, emerged as one that Ribera painted while he was in Rome soon after Caravaggio’s death (1610), before he moved to Naple (1616). Works from those years were explored last summer in an exhibition at the Prado that Dr Cranfield saw.

Such attributions, as we all know, necessarily are challenged and debated over time, but serve always to remind us that it is the art that matters.

65 James Street
Oxford OX4 1EX

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