When you’re unpacking a seventeenth century Italian masterpiece worth HK$640 million, you certainly don’t want to slip up and tear the canvas.
Caravaggio’s master work Supper at Emmaus was unpacked on Monday morning ready to wow Hong Kong's art lovers.
The 1606 painting by the Italian Baroque master arrived in Hong Kong on Sunday and is now being installed at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center in Admiralty, for its debut in an exhibition entitled “Light and Shadows – Caravaggio, The Italian Baroque Master."
The show also features works from four Hong Kong contemporary artists.
The painting illustrates the event in Luke’s Gospel in which Christ revealed himself to his disciples after his resurrection. It has cost HK$4.82 million to bring the painting to Hong Kong with sponsorship from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.
Asia Society Hong Kong said a special crate was built to ship the painting and its condition was closely monitored throughout its journey, after leaving its home Pinacoteca di Brera for the first time.
Watch: Caravaggio's HK$640 million masterpiece makes debut in Asia
Humidity must be maintained at 55 per cent, while the temperature is kept at 23 degrees Celsius.
Alice Mong, director of Asia Society Hong Kong, said she was “emotional” to see the masterpiece arrive in the city.
She said it was a "heavy responsibility to bear" as the painting is the most expensive work the Society has ever hosted. She added that police had offered advice on security issues.
Alessandra Schiavo, Consul General of Italy in Hong Kong and Macau, hopes for enthusiasm from Hongkongers.
“Caravaggio opened the way to modern painting. His paintings often featured street characters instead of immortals,” she said, comparing Botticelli’s Renaissance classic Venus that was brought to Hong Kong last year.
“There is a growing cultural demand in Hong Kong and I hope we can start a dialogue with the people of Hong Kong.”
The exhibition is free but visitors are advised to obtain admission tickets in advance as Asia Society Hong Kong is a conservation site with a limited capacity.
Free tickets can be obtained at Pacific Place or on the doors of Asia Society Hong Kong in Admiralty. The society said 7,000 tickets have already been given out. It is expecting 40,000 visitors to the exhibition.
The exhibition opens on March 12 and runs until April 13.