Late XV Century – Early XVI Century

In 2010 Prof. Massimo Pulini, professor at the Academy of Bologna and author of monographs on Guercino and Sassoferrato, was called to treat a small exhibition in the diocesan museum of Pienza. On this occasion he was gifted the guide of the Foundation Museums Sensei, browsing through it, he was attracted by the photo of a portrait of a gentleman kept at the Civic Museum Art Gallery Crociani of Montepulciano.

This painting is described by Laura Martini in the catalog of 2000, she points out how the painting has clear references to Carvaggio's style. Obviously Pulini was not looking for Caravaggio, but his expert eye reacted. Pulini says: "I went to verify on the spot the treatment of the brushstrokes in the chiaroscuro and it seemed unequivocal to me. There is no clear division of light and shade: an enveloping breath illuminates the cheek, ear and neck, almost as if it were reflected in the silk of the shirt.” Thanks to the restoration carried out by Mary Lippi, it was possible to notice the lawyer's toga on the shoulder. To understand who could be the subject depicted were made some comparisons. The painting was compared with a bust attributed to Algardi, a drawing by Bernini and a similar portrait preserved in a collection in New York. It was Mina Gregori, who identified as the subject Scipione Caffarelli, later adopted Borghese. Scipione in fact studied in Perugia as a lawyer, then became a cardinal thanks to his uncle, Pope Paul V. Moreover, Scipione Caffarelli and Caravaggio knew each other. A study day was dedicated to the portrait, held in Montepulciano on December 3, 2011, on the theme: "Caravaggio portraiture and a proposal from the Civic Museum of Montepulciano", curated by Mina Gregori and Massimo Pulini.

At the end of the thrilling debate, full of insights, the experts present expressed their opinions on the work in question. Mina Gregori declared herself intrigued by the proposal of this portrait, convinced by the arguments passionately exposed by Pulini. Maurizio Calvesi reinforced his favorable opinion at the sight of the post-restoration, photograph: Francesco Petrucci, Roman portrait studious of the 17th century, had already declared he had no doubts about the attribution.