A meeting in Rome on Caravaggio's Nativity stolen in 1969

A meeting dedicated to Caravaggio's Nativity, the painting stolen in Palermo in 1969, is being held in Rome on May 24. Speakers will include Claudio Strinati, Michele Di Sivo, Francesca Curti, Sandro Corradini and Michele Cuppone.

An event entirely dedicated to Caravaggio ’s Nativity stolen in Palermo in 1969: it is entitled Caravaggio. The Nativity in the Mystery of its Genesis and Disappearance (information here) and is being held on May 24 at theState Archives of Rome in the Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza building, where documents testifying to salient facts of the great painter’s human and artistic story are preserved. The appointment is for 4 p.m. at the Sala Alessandrina, admission free subject to availability.

The subject of the meeting, which takes the form of a conversation, is the famous Nativity with Saints Lawrence and Francis stolen 55 years ago from an oratory in Palermo and never recovered. In more than half a century of investigation, there have been many confessions by mafia turncoats and legends but few certainties about its dispersal.

According to the latest studies and research, the altarpiece was made not in Sicily in 1609, as some biographers handed down, but in Rome in the year 1600. It would correspond to the painting “cum figuris” requested from Caravaggio in a notarial deed still kept at the Archives, which is exceptionally displayed for the occasion. The painting appears to have been executed in the nearby Palazzo Madama, now the Senate of the Republic, where the artist was living at the time. Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza is an ideal location for the conversation precisely because of its central position in that square of a few hundred meters in the urban context, where many Caravaggesque events narrated in the archival papers took place.

More difficult to access, however, are the material traces of the canvas’ disappearance and subsequent investigations. For the first time ever, a letter from 1974 (photostatic reproduction), pertaining to the Soprintendenza BB.CC.AA. of Palermo, concerning an attempt to fence the work, is on display during the event.

Special guest of the meeting is Claudio Strinati, secretary general of the Accademia di San Luca. Introduced and moderated by Michele Di Sivo, State Archives of Rome. Speakers include Francesca Curti, art historian; Sandro Corradini, researcher; and Michele Cuppone, author of the essay "Caravaggio, the Nativity in Palermo. Birth and Disappearance of a Masterpiece" (Campisano Editore, 2023).

Caravaggio's Nativity (1600) stolen in 1969
Caravaggio’s Nativity (1600) stolen in 1969.

A meeting in Rome on Caravaggio's Nativity stolen in 1969
A meeting in Rome on Caravaggio's Nativity stolen in 1969

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