February 8 to April 6, 2014, visitors coming to the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary will have a rare opportunity to view three famous paintings by, or attributed to, Caravaggio and take sides in an intense debate among the world’s leading authorities on Italian paintings. Two nearly identical versions of Caravaggio’s Saint Francis in Meditation have left experts divided. Despite years of debate, experts are in disagreement as to which one of these two beautiful paintings was created first and by whom. Which one is the original? Could they both be by the great Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio? The two paintings on special loan from Rome’s Capuchin church and from the town of Carpineto Romano will be shown side by side, affording a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Williamsburg audience to compare them. The exhibition will be completed by another of Caravaggio’s best-known compositions, the Fortune Teller, on loan from the Pinacoteca Capitoline in Rome. Although disputed by the experts until as recently as 1985, this painting is now recognized as a milestone in Caravaggio’s representation of daily life, not to mention a characteristic example of his style shortly after his arrival in Rome in the early 1590s.

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