While the present canvas would seem to be of generally higher quality than the two other versions, its author remains to be identified. The painting in Richmond has been attributed in the past to various followers of Caravaggio, including the French painter Valentin de Boulogne, the Fleming Adam de Coster and more recently the Dutch painter Johannes van Bronckhorst. In 1982 Pierre Rosenberg published it with an attribution to the French follower of Caravaggio known as 'The Master of the Open-Mouthed Boys'.3 Rosenberg further supported the same attribution for the Stockholm painting when he saw it in the original in 1998, endorsing the initial suggestion of Dr Sergio Benedetti. This name was first coined by Benedict Nicholson to denote the works of a hand he regarded as possibly a French-based Caravaggesque follower of Carlo Saraceni.4 In 1992, however, Jean-Pierre Cuzin rejected a French origin for this version, suggesting instead an artist in the circle of the Dutchman Jan van Bijlert. Although unlikely to be from Utrecht or another Northern centre, the elegant handling and smooth finish might indeed suggest that the artist was a northerner, most probably of French or Flemish origin, working in Rome around 1615–25.
1 Inv. no. 58.19. Canvas, 100.9 by 118.7 cm. Fürstliche Liechtensteinische Gemäldegalerie, Vienna 1931, p. 69, no. 248 (as by Valentin).
2 Canvas, 103 by 120.3 cm.
3 See P. Rosenberg in La Peinture Française du XVIIe siècle dans les collections Américains, exhibition catalogue, Paris, Grand Palais, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Chicago, Art Institute, 1982, p. 364, no. 3, reproduced.
4 B. Nicholson, The International Caravaggesque Movement, Oxford 1979, p. 36, under 'French School Caravaggesque Master K'.
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