Erin Benay, Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University
Through December 10, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Crucifixion of Saint Andrew (1606–7), painted by Caravaggio in Naples, hangs alongside the so-called Back-Vega copy of the painting, generously lent to the CMA by the Spier Collection in London. This is an unprecedented opportunity to conduct a side-by-side comparison of Caravaggio’s original painting and one of the best-known 17th-century copies of the picture. Over the years the Back-Vega picture has been variously attributed to Jusepe de Ribera, Louis Finson, and Caravaggio himself. This comparison raises important questions about the manufacture of copies in an age before digital reproduction, and offers specialists and students alike the chance to put their connoisseurship to the test.