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Pioneers in Digital Research and Attributions


"...attributed to Caravaggio’s name, certified by an expert, and sold to a wealthy collector as Caravaggio." The Caravaggio Research Committee was formed with a vision for the twenty-first century. The vision was the development of a new standard for scholarly research and analysis. Through the application of modern technology and the utilisation of the global communications network, the vision is being fulfilled. The presentation of an ongoing dialogue is now a reality. The resource is regularly updated, refined and expanded as information is compiled. The result is this online Catalogue Raisonné. We believe that this Catalogue Raisonné will be the first of many.
    The fundamental problem addressed by this Committee was the authorship of paintings attributed to the hand of Michelangelo da Caravaggio. Unfortunately, the actual authorship of many of these paintings was lost in through over enthusiastic misattributions to Caravaggio. The lack of paintings attributable to many of the followers of Caravaggio is founded in a very simple truth. Few paintings remain to their credit because the majority of their finest pictures were wrestled from their rightful names generations ago, attributed to Caravaggio’s name, certified by some "expert," and then sold to a wealthy collector as a Caravaggio.
    Since the turn of the century, many noted art historians and experts have conducted extensive research into the life and paintings of Caravaggio. Their opinions have aired in volumes of Catalogue Raisonnés and other scholarly publications. However, the problems of accurate and unbiased attribution remained. Far too many paintings by the followers of Caravaggio continued to rest under incorrect attributions.
    Sadly, these incorrect attributions are a great disservice to everyone. It is not fair to Caravaggio to hold him responsible for the paintings of his followers, whether the paintings be good, bad or indifferent. Such attributions take away from the genius of Caravaggio. Concurrently, it is not fair to his followers to have their very best works taken away and attributed to Caravaggio.
    Misattribution has destroyed the identity of many of Caravaggio’s followers who, in their day, became important painters in their own right. Some of these painters are referred to as merely weak followers of Caravaggio.
    This great loss happened because most of the great pictures these artists painted were wrestled from their names generations ago, attributed to Caravaggio’s name, certified by some "expert," and then sold to a wealthy collector. The artist can hardly protest, for is long gone and nearly forgotten. It is one of the goals of the Caravaggio Research Committee to correct as many of these wrongful attributions as possible. The goal of the Committee is to provide a more honest understanding of both Caravaggio and those who were inspired by his genius. For the legend that became Caravaggio is interwoven between the master and his followers.
    It was obvious to the Caravaggio Research Committee that a new method and philosophy for examining authorship was necessary. The Committee was determined not to repeat the errors of those that came before us. It was crucial to develop a new method for attribution based on twenty-first century technology. It was imperative that attribution should not be dependent upon subjective opinions or dubious circumstantial evidence.
    Therefore, the Committee adopted a revolutionary new method of analysis and attribution. Scholars familiar with the works of Michelangelo da Caravaggio will immediately note the impact of this new method for attribution. The total number of authentic paintings attributed to the artist in this Catalogue Raisonné is well under one hundred and considerably less than the number included in any previous Catalogue Raisonné.
    It is now possible for both historical art scholarship and Catalogue Raisonnés to provide fresh information through the application of twenty-first century technology. This scholarship has been much to the dismay of many art collectors, dealers, galleries, and museums. Modern technology can dispassionately and reliably eliminate the most common of human errors. It is possible to use technology that can base conclusions upon technical analysis, not require human opinions.
    The Committee sees the correction of past attribution errors as an asset for all. The Committee believes that the accuracy of attribution is extremely important to the understanding of the artist. Only when the body of work of an artist is properly identified, can we glimpse the genius of the artist. In the case of Caravaggio, the works painted by his hand give us insight into his creative genius. Followers, whose work has passed for that of Caravaggio, certainly must be examined in a new light. The true value of the works by these artists is bound to increase as we develop an understanding of their individual geniuses.
    Twenty-first century technology allows us to make a giant stride towards accuracy in painting attribution. The proprietary software developed for Caravaggio Research Committee usage is highly sophisticated and provides a visible horizon for our evaluation of attributions. The technology has eliminated unwarranted bias, human errors and other problems that have plagued art scholarship over the centuries.
    Computers can make dispassionate decisions based upon facts not opinions. Computers are not influenced by social pressures nor by any vested interests. Computers do not own paintings that they would like to see attributed to Caravaggio. The person who is paying for the research can not place a computer under pressure to make different decisions. In this fashion, computers become the perfect arbitrator of facts and administrator of judgements. Thus, the Caravaggio Research Committee has followed this path in its search for truth. The proprietary software uses cutting edge technology to reveal facts that have remained hidden through the centuries.
    The difficulty for many is to understand the limitations of twenty-first century technology. Certainly, this technology provides much accurate information, but this information is not an end in itself. It is not yet possible for a computer to evaluate artistic genius. Although it seems certain that, the day will come when a computer will be able to evaluate the realm of the aesthetic. It does not appear that it will be realised in the near future.
    Therefore, the Committee asserts that the role of art historians and experts remains vital in determining quality. Questions of the most inspired and the greatest of Caravaggio’s masterpieces can only be answered through human subjectivity. The research and conclusions of these individuals are essential to the continuing knowledge of the genius of Michelangelo da Caravaggio.
    There was no initial intent of the Caravaggio Research Committee to produce its findings on the Internet. The Internet of today did not yet exist. However, as the Internet developed so has this Committee. It became imperative that the Committee grow and change with the technology of the day. With the growth and change, grew the awareness that the Catalogue Raisonné must reflect the unbiased ability to record the information that twenty-first century technology provides. Therefore, inclusions in this Catalogue Raisonné are regularly updated as the Committee’s research and findings are broadened and enhanced.
    The Caravaggio Research Committee looks forward to the changes and the contributions that the new technologies of the forthcoming century will make to historical art scholarship. The Caravaggio Research Committee is fully committed to providing an on going analysis of the paintings attributed to Michelangelo da Caravaggio that is supported by objectivity rather than subjective opinion. The Caravaggio Research Committee is challenged to be on the cutting-edge of this technology and is committed to providing information that is both accurate and current.
" correct as many of these wrongful attributions as possible."
"The Committee was determined not to repeat the errors of those that came before us."
"The technology eliminated unwarranted bias, human errors and other problems that have plagued art scholarship over the centuries."
"...must reflect the unbiased ability to record the information twenty-first century technology provides."

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