The Go-To Place for All Things Caravaggio

By Joe Sperrin

The Galleria Borghese in Rome has announced that it is opening a new Caravaggio research institute. The aim: to be the world’s reference point for the restoration and research of the artist and his works.

Caravaggio,  The Supper at Emmaus,  1601, oil on canvas, 55.5 x 77.5 in (141 x 196.2cm). Courtesy of , 2017.

Caravaggio, The Supper at Emmaus, 1601, oil on canvas, 55.5 x 77.5 in (141 x 196.2cm). Courtesy of, 2017.

The Galleria Borghese in Rome is infamous for its impressive collection. Caravaggio is often considered to be one of the greatest masters in European art for his use of chiaroscuro and striking realism. John Berger writes that ‘his vision can of course be considered art-historically as a step in the evolution of European art.’ So it is only fitting that such an institute be set up for the seventeenth-century master. The Galleria Borghese expects to send six of the works on a world tour throughout North America and South East Asia in the three years leading up to the opening of the institute. Caravaggio’s works have fetched millions of dollars at auction; nonetheless, there has been controversy surrounding the auction of his works. In 2014 The Telegraph reported that a man was suing Sotheby's after a piece, which he had previously sold for £42, 000 after he was assured by experts that it was simply a copy by a follower of the old master, fetched £10 million at auction as a genuine Caravaggio. The influence of Caravaggio is wide-reaching, as seen in the recent exhibition Beyond Caravaggio, which was at the National Gallery in London and then moved to the National Gallery in Edinburgh. 

Caravaggio,  Boy Bitten by Lizard,  1594-1595, oil on canvas, 26 x 19.5in (66 x 49.5cm). Courtesy of   .2017.

Caravaggio, Boy Bitten by Lizard, 1594-1595, oil on canvas, 26 x 19.5in (66 x 49.5cm). Courtesy of  .2017.

The Galleria Borghese is to team-up with the Italian luxury clothing brand, Fendi. Although it seems an unlikely partnership, the Roman company has been involved with various restorations before, the most famous being the restoration of the Trevi fountain. Artnet news reports that Fendi is contributing $1.56 million to the setup of the institute that will form a worldwide database for all things Caravaggio. The database aspires to be the ultimate tool for anyone looking to learn more about the artist and will contain his entire oeuvre, in addition to research articles and in-depth information about the artist himself.

Caravggio,  The Taking of Christ,  1602, oil on canvas, 52.6 x 66.7in (133.5 x 169.5cm). Courtesy of . 2017.

Caravggio, The Taking of Christ, 1602, oil on canvas, 52.6 x 66.7in (133.5 x 169.5cm). Courtesy of 2017.

The jury is still out as to whether it will be a success. Four years of development have been put towards the database so far and, if it is successful, it could be one of the greatest tools in the world for anyone researching the life and works of Caravaggio.


Berger, John. "Caravaggio: a contemporary view." Studio International, volume 196, number 998, (1983). Accessed online on 1st Nov. 2017 at

Brown, Sarah. “Italy Is Launching a New Caravaggio Research Institute Thanks to a (Literally) Well-Heeled Supporter,” Artnet news. Accessed 1st Nov. 2017.

Furness, Hannah. “Man who sold painting for £42,000 sues auction house after it was later claimed as ‘£10m Caravaggio,’” The Telegraph online. Accessed 1st Nov. 2017.