19 May 2019

The Real Caravaggio?

For this month's edition of Flickr photos, I had a good choice of interesting photos, one of which was a photo of a painting. I decided to use the painting, because I couldn't remember having seen it before.

Joueurs d'√©checs, Le Caravage, 1610 © Flickr user Pierre under Creative Commons.

The description of the photo/painting pointed out (in French) that the chess board is positioned incorrectly, with the corner square white *not* on right. I had a bigger problem with the chess board -- it looks too modern and the slight tilt downward to the right is wrong. I have a plastic folding board in the same colors that looks very much like the board in the painting. This is undoubtedly a coincidence and the similiarity is my imagination playing tricks on me, but it still annoyed me.

Using an image search on 'chess caravaggio' (the artist's name in English), I located a half-dozen copies of the painting, one version of which had a different chess board. The others all had the same funny-looking board seen in the Flickr photo. There were other differences between the two versions, enough to convince me that they were two different paintings.

The Flickr description gives 'Gallerie dell'Accademia di Venezia' as a source. The white patch on the right side might be from a flash and is even more visible in the original (I've cropped out the painting's frame). Which version is hanging in Venice?

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