Presenting Him In Palermo: The Epiphany

Buona Epifania! Happy Epiphany! This magnificent depiction of the Nativity was commissioned by Palermo’s Oratorio of San Lorenzo in 1609. It illustrates the newborn baby Jesus with Saint Francis (top right) and Saint Lawrence (left) looking over the shoulder of the Virgin Mother. Painted by Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610)) in the chiaroscuro technique, it captures a sacred moment, presenting it both dramatically and realistically. Caravaggio’s use of light versus shadows is extraordinary. Much to the chagrin of Palermitani, the original masterpiece was stolen from the baroque meetinghouse in a heist in 1969, never to be seen again. A few years ago, the television company Sky commissioned a replica of the lost work. The facsimile was created by expert artists, engineers, and architects at Factum Arte, a group in Milan, and in December 2015, the new work was hung with much celebration in the original location near the Basilica San Francesco d’Assisi.

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