Peter of Verona
Saint Peter of Verona O. P. known as Saint Peter Martyr, was a 13th-century Italian Catholic priest. He was a celebrated preacher, he served as Inquisitor in Lombardy, was killed by an assassin, was canonized as a Catholic saint 11 months after his death, making this the fastest canonization in history. Thomas Agni of Leontino, Dominican archbishop of Cosenza, patriarch of Jerusalem, was the first to write a life of the blessed martyr, he had been his superior. He was born in the city of Verona into a family sympathetic to the Cathar heresy. Peter went to a Catholic school, to the University of Bologna, where he is said to have maintained his orthodoxy and at the age of fifteen, met Saint Dominic. Peter joined the Order of the Friars Preachers and became a celebrated preacher throughout northern and central Italy. From the 1230s on, Peter preached against heresy, Catharism, which had many adherents in thirteenth-century Northern Italy. Pope Gregory IX appointed him General Inquisitor for northern Italy in 1234. and Peter evangelized nearly the whole of Italy, preaching in Rome, Bologna and Como.
In 1243 he recommended the new Servite foundation to the pope for approval. In 1251, Pope Innocent IV recognized Peter's virtues, appointed him Inquisitor in Lombardy, he spent about six months in that office and it is unclear whether he was involved in any trials. His one recorded act was a declaration of clemency for those confessing heresy or sympathy to heresy. In his sermons he denounced heresy and those Catholics who professed the Faith by words, but acted contrary to it in deeds. Crowds followed him; because of this, a group of Milanese Cathars conspired to kill him. They hired one Carino of Balsamo. Carino's accomplice was Manfredo Clitoro of Giussano. On April 6, 1252, when Peter was returning from Como to Milan, the two assassins followed Peter to a lonely spot near Barlassina, there killed him and mortally wounded his companion, a fellow friar named Dominic. Carino struck Peter's head with an axe and attacked Domenico. Peter rose to his knees, recited the first article of the Symbol of the Apostles.
Offering his blood as a sacrifice to God, according to legend, he dipped his fingers in it and wrote on the ground: "Credo in Deum", the first words of the Apostles' Creed. The blow that killed him cut off the top of his head, but the testimony given at the inquest into his death confirms that he began reciting the Creed when he was attacked. Dominic was carried to Meda. According to Dominican tradition Peter conversed with the saints, including the virgin-martyrs Catherine and Cecilia. Once, when preaching to a vast crowd under the burning sun, the heretics challenged him to procure shade for his listeners; as he prayed, a cloud overshadowed the audience. Peter's body was carried to Milan and laid in the Church of Sant'Eustorgio, where an ornate mausoleum, the work of Balduccio Pisano, was erected to his memory. Since the eighteenth century this has been located in the Portinari Chapel. Many miracles were attributed to him while alive, more after his martyrdom. Peter was canonized by Pope Innocent IV on the fastest canonization in papal history.
St Peter the Martyr's feast day is 6 April. From 1586, when the feast day was inserted in the General Roman Calendar, to 1969, when it was removed on the grounds of the limited importance now attached to the saint internationally, the celebration was on 29 April; the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua in Verona is co-entitled to him. Carino, the assassin repented and confessed his crime, he converted to orthodoxy and became a lay brother in the Dominican convent of Forlì. He is the subject of a local cult as Blessed Carino of Balsamo; the sculptures on the great door of S. Anastasia, the Dominican Church in Verona, represent scenes from the life of St. Peter Martyr. Konrad von Marburg Pedro de Arbués Dondaine, Fr. Antoine, O. P. "Saint Pierre Martyr" Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 23: 66-162. Prudlo, Donald; the Martyred Inquisitor: The Life and Cult of Peter of Verona. Aldershot: Ashgate Press, 2008. Prudlo, Donald. "The Assassin-Saint: The Life and Cult of Carino of Balsamo", Catholic Historical Review, 94: 1-21.
Butler, Alban. The Lives of the Saints, Volume IV: April, 1866
The Lute Player (Caravaggio)
The Lute Player is a composition by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio. It exists in two versions, one in the Wildenstein Collection and another in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. A third from Badminton House, came to light in 2007 - however, some question its authenticity. Caravaggio's early biographer Giovanni Baglione gives the following description of a piece done by the artist for his patron Cardinal Francesco Del Monte: E dipinse … anche un giovane, che sonava il Lauto, che vivo, e vero il tutto parea con una caraffa di fiori piena d’acqua, che dentro il reflesso d’ua fenestra eccelentemente si scorgeva con altri ripercotimenti di quella camera dentro l’acqua, e sopra quei fiori eravi una viva rugiada con ogni esquisita diligenza finta. E questo che che facesse mai." " The painting exists in three versions. All show a boy with soft facial features and thick brown hair, accompanying himself on the lute as he sings a madrigal about love; as in the Uffizi Bacchus, the artist places a table-top in front of the figure.
In the Hermitage and Badminton House versions it is bare marble, with a violin on one side and a still life of flowers and fruit on the other. In the Wildenstein version the table is covered with a carpet and extended forwards to hold a tenor recorder, while the still life is replaced by a spinetta and a caged songbird; the musical instruments are valuable and came from Del Monte's personal collection. The Hermitage and Badminton House versions show madrigals by Jacques Arcadelt, the visible text reads in part: "Vous savez que je vous aime et vous adore... Je fus vôtre.". The Wildenstein version shows songs by a native Florentine on a text by Petrarch: Laisse le voile and Pourquoi ne vous donnez-vous pas? by Giachetto Berchem. The flowers and damaged fruit, the cracked body of the lute, suggest the theme of transience: love, like all things, is fleeting and mortal; the choice of Franco-Flemish composers over native Italians – only Layolle was a native Italian – no doubt reflects the cultural affiliations of the pro-French Del Monte-Giustiniani circle.
The still life elements are of an high standard in all versions, the finely rendered fruit and flowers in two versions equalled by the textures of spinetta and flute in the other, the artist has reproduced the initial notes of the madrigals so that one can recognize the Roman printer, Valerio Dorica. The rather androgynous model could be Pedro Montoya, a castrato known to have been a member of the Del Monte household and a singer at the Sistine Chapel at about this time - castrati were prized and the Cardinal was a patron of music as well as of painting. More Caravaggio biographer Peter Robb has identified him as Caravaggio's companion Mario Minniti, the model for several other paintings from this period including The Cardsharps and one of the two versions of The Fortune Teller. All three versions demonstrate the innovative approach to light that Caravaggio adopted at this time. Caravaggio's method, as described by Caravaggio's contemporary Giulio Mancini, was to use "a strong light from above with a single window and the walls painted black, so that having the lights bright and the shadows dark, it gives depth to the painting, but with a method, not natural nor done or thought of by any other century or older painters like Raphael, Titian and others."
The room itself seems to be the same as that in the Contarelli Chapel Calling of Saint Matthew, the beam of light across the rear wall has an upper limit that would appear to be the shutter of the window above the table in the Calling. The carafe is a "cut-and-paste" motif from another image, where the main light came from a window at more or less the same level as the carafe itself; such a complex illustration of refracted light is unprecedented in the Cinquecento, may have been the result of collaboration with scientists in Del Monte's circle, including Giovanni Battista della Porta, the guiding spirit behind the foundation in 1603 of the Accademia dei Lincei. His multi-volume De Refractione Optices was concerned with optical matters, the second volume being devoted to the incidence of light on water-filled and glass spheres; the circle of Della Porta was significant for Caravaggio on in Naples, where the commission for the Seven Acts of Mercy seems to have emanated from Giovanni Batista Manso, Marchese di Villa, whose friend, the alchemist Colantonio Stigliola, was a member of the Accademia dei Lincei.
The appearance of second originals is a feature of a new understanding of Caravaggio's work, indeed Vincenzo Giustiniani, whose experience was related to the artist's career, describes in his Discorso sulla pittura the painter's development as beginning with copying others’ work - ‘Proceeding further, he can copy his own work, so that the replica may be as good, sometimes better, than the first’. The procedure for making a second version was, however different from the sometimes arduous task of building a group from many separate observations of reality, of figures and objects.
The Baroque is a ornate and extravagant style of architecture, painting and other arts that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the mid-18th century. It preceded the Rococo and Neoclassical styles, it was encouraged by the Catholic Church as a means to counter the simplicity and austerity of Protestant architecture and music, though Lutheran Baroque art developed in parts of Europe as well. The Baroque style used contrast, exuberant detail, deep colour and surprise to achieve a sense of awe; the style began at the start of the 17th century in Rome spread to France, northern Italy and Portugal to Austria and southern Germany. By the 1730s, it had evolved into an more flamboyant style, called rocaille or Rococo, which appeared in France and central Europe until the mid to late 18th century; the English word baroque comes directly from the French, may have been adapted from the Portuguese term barroco, a flawed pearl. Both words are related to the Spanish term berruca; the term did not describe a style of music or art.
Prior to the 18th century, the French baroque and Portuguese barroco were terms related to jewelry, An example from 1531 uses the term to describe pearls in an inventory of Charles V's treasures. The word appears in a 1694 edition of Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française, which describes baroque as "only used for pearls that are imperfectly round." A 1728 Portuguese dictionary describes barroco as relating to a "coarse and uneven pearl."The French term for the artistic style may have had roots in the medieval Latin word baroco, a philosophical term, invented in the 13th century by scholastics to describe a complicated type of syllogism, or logical argument. In the 16th century the philosopher Michel de Montaigne associated the term'baroco' with "Bizarre and uselessly complicated." In the 18th century, the term was used to describe music, was not flattering. In an anonymous satirical review of the première of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie in October 1733, printed in the Mercure de France in May 1734, the critic wrote that the novelty in this opera was "du barocque", complaining that the music lacked coherent melody, was unsparing with dissonances changed key and meter, speedily ran through every compositional device.
In 1762, Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française wrote that the term could be used figuratively to describe something "irregular, bizarre or unequal."Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a musician and composer as well as philosopher, wrote in 1768 in the Encyclopédie: "Baroque music is that in which the harmony is confused, loaded with modulations and dissonances. The singing is harsh and unnatural, the intonation difficult, the movement limited, it appears that term comes from the word'baroco' used by logicians."In 1788, the term was defined by Quatremère de Quincy in the Encyclopédie Méthodique as "an architectural style, adorned and tormented". The terms "style baroque" and "musique baroque" appeared in Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française in 1835. By the mid-19th century, art critics and historians had adopted the term as a way to ridicule post-Renaissance art; this was the sense of the word as used in 1855 by the leading art historian Jacob Burkhardt, who wrote that baroque artists "despised and abused detail" because they lacked "respect for tradition."Alternatively, a derivation from the name of the Italian painter Federico Barocci has been suggested.
In 1888, the art historian Heinrich Wölfflin published the first serious academic work on the style, Renaissance und Barock, which described the differences between the painting and architecture of the Renaissance and the Baroque. The Baroque style of architecture was a result of doctrines adopted by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in 1545–63, in response to the Protestant Reformation; the first phase of the Counter-Reformation had imposed a severe, academic style on religious architecture, which had appealed to intellectuals but not the mass of churchgoers. The Council of Trent decided instead to appeal to a more popular audience, declared that the arts should communicate religious themes with direct and emotional involvement. Lutheran Baroque art developed as a confessional marker of identity, in response to the Great Iconoclasm of Calvinists. Baroque churches were designed with a large central space, where the worshippers could be close to the altar, with a dome or cupola high overhead, allowing light to illuminate the church below.
The dome was one of the central symbolic features of baroque architecture illustrating the union between the heavens and the earth, The inside of the cupola was lavishly decorated with paintings of angels and saints, with stucco statuettes of angels, giving the impression to those below of looking up at heaven. Another feature of baroque churches are the quadratura. Quadratura paintings of Atlantes below the cornices appear to be supporting the ceiling of the church. Unlike the painted ceilings of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, which combined different scenes, each with its own perspective, to be looked at one at a time, the Baroque ceiling paintings were created so the viewer on the floor of the church would see the entire ceiling in correct perspective, as if the figures were real; the interiors of baroque churches became more and more ornate in the High Baroque, an
The Fortune Teller (Caravaggio)
The Fortune Teller is a painting by Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. It exists in two versions, both by Caravaggio, the first from 1594, the second from 1595; the dates in both cases are disputed. The painting shows a foppishly-dressed boy; the boy looks pleased as he gazes into her face, she returns his gaze. Close inspection of the painting reveals what the young man has failed to notice: the girl is removing his ring as she strokes his hand. Caravaggio's biographer Giovanni Pietro Bellori relates that the artist picked the gypsy girl out from passers-by on the street in order to demonstrate that he had no need to copy the works of the masters from antiquity: "When he was shown the most famous statues of Phidias and Glykon in order that he might use them as models, his only answer was to point towards a crowd of people saying that nature had given him an abundance of masters."This passage is used to demonstrate that the classically trained Mannerist artists of Caravaggio's day disapproved of Caravaggio's insistence on painting from life instead of from copies and drawings made from older masterpieces.
However, Bellori ends by saying, "and in these two half-figures translated reality so purely that it came to confirm what he said." The story is apocryphal - Bellori was writing more than half a century after Caravaggio's death, it doesn't appear in Mancini's or in Giovanni Baglione, the two contemporary biographers who had known him - but it does indicate the essence of Caravaggio's revolutionary impact on his contemporaries - beginning with The Fortune Teller -, to replace the Renaissance theory of art as a didactic fiction with art as the representation of real life. The 1594 Fortune Teller aroused considerable interest among younger artists and the more avant garde collectors of Rome, according to Mancini, Caravaggio's poverty forced him to sell it for the low sum of eight scudi, it entered the collection of a wealthy banker and connoisseur, the Marchese Vincente Giustiniani, who became an important patron of the artist. Giustiniani's friend, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, purchased the companion piece, Cardsharps, in 1595, at some point in that year Caravaggio entered the Cardinal's household.
For Del Monte, Caravaggio painted a second version of The Fortune Teller, copied from the Giustiniani but with certain changes. The undifferentiated background of the 1594 version becomes a real wall broken by the shadows of a half-drawn curtain and a window sash, the figures more fill the space and defining it in three dimensions; the light is more radiant, the cloth of the boy's doublet and the girl's sleeves more finely textured. The dupe becomes more childlike and more innocently vulnerable, the girl less wary-looking, leaning in towards him, more in command of the situation; the Fortune Teller is one of two known genre pieces painted by Caravaggio in the year 1594, the other being Cardsharps. The Fortune Teller is believed to be the earlier of the two, dates from the period during which the artist had left the workshop of the Giuseppe Cesari to make his own way selling paintings through the dealer Costantino; the subject of the painting was not unprecedented. In his Lives of the Artists, Giorgio Vasari notes that one of Franciabigio's followers, his brother Agnolo, painted a sign for a perfumer's shop "containing a gipsy woman telling the fortune of a lady in a graceful manner".
A Caravaggio Rediscovered, The Lute Player, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on this painting
Naples is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest municipality in Italy after Rome and Milan. In 2017, around 967,069 people lived within the city's administrative limits while its province-level municipality has a population of 3,115,320 residents, its continuously built-up metropolitan area is the second or third largest metropolitan area in Italy and one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. First settled by Greeks in the second millennium BC, Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in the world. In the ninth century BC, a colony known as Parthenope or Παρθενόπη was established on the Island of Megaride refounded as Neápolis in the sixth century BC; the city was an important part of Magna Graecia, played a major role in the merging of Greek and Roman society and a significant cultural centre under the Romans. It served as the capital of the Duchy of Naples of the Kingdom of Naples and of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
Between 1925 and 1936, Naples was expanded and upgraded by Benito Mussolini's government but subsequently sustained severe damage from Allied bombing during World War II, which led to extensive post-1945 reconstruction work. Naples has experienced significant economic growth in recent decades, helped by the construction of the Centro Direzionale business district and an advanced transportation network, which includes the Alta Velocità high-speed rail link to Rome and Salerno and an expanded subway network. Naples is the third-largest urban economy in Italy, after Rome; the Port of Naples is one of the most important in Europe and home of the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, the NATO body that oversees North Africa, the Sahel and Middle East. Naples' historic city centre is the largest in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a wide range of culturally and significant sites nearby, including the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Naples is known for its natural beauties such as Posillipo, Phlegraean Fields and Vesuvius.
Neapolitan cuisine is synonymous with pizza – which originated in the city – but it includes many lesser-known dishes. The best-known sports team in Naples is the Serie A club S. S. C. Napoli, two-time Italian champions who play at the San Paolo Stadium in the southwest of the city, in the Fuorigrotta quarter. Naples has been inhabited since the Neolithic period; the earliest Greek settlements were established in the Naples area in the second millennium BC. Sailors from the Greek island of Rhodes established a small commercial port called Parthenope on the island of Megaride in the ninth century BC. By the eighth century BC, the settlement had expanded to include Monte Echia. In the sixth century BC the new urban zone of Neápolis was founded on the plain becoming one of the foremost cities of Magna Graecia; the city grew due to the influence of the powerful Greek city-state of Syracuse, became an ally of the Roman Republic against Carthage. During the Samnite Wars, the city, now a bustling centre of trade, was captured by the Samnites.
During the Punic Wars, the strong walls surrounding Neápolis repelled the invading forces of the Carthaginian general Hannibal. Naples was respected by the Romans as a paragon of Hellenistic culture. During the Roman era, the people of Naples maintained their Greek language and customs, while the city was expanded with elegant Roman villas and public baths. Landmarks such as the Temple of Dioscures were built, many emperors chose to holiday in the city, including Claudius and Tiberius. Virgil, the author of Rome's national epic, the Aeneid, received part of his education in the city, resided in its environs, it was during this period. Januarius, who would become Naples' patron saint, was martyred there in the fourth century AD; the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Romulus Augustulus, was exiled to Naples by the Germanic king Odoacer in the fifth century AD. Following the decline of the Western Roman Empire, Naples was captured by the Ostrogoths, a Germanic people, incorporated into the Ostrogothic Kingdom.
However, Belisarius of the Byzantine Empire recaptured Naples in 536, after entering the city via an aqueduct. In 543, during the Gothic Wars, Totila took the city for the Ostrogoths, but the Byzantines seized control of the area following the Battle of Mons Lactarius on the slopes of Vesuvius. Naples was expected to keep in contact with the Exarchate of Ravenna, the centre of Byzantine power on the Italian Peninsula. After the exarchate fell, a Duchy of Naples was created. Although Naples' Greco-Roman culture endured, it switched allegiance from Constantinople to Rome under Duke Stephen II, putting it under papal suzerainty by 763; the years between 818 and 832 were tumultuous in regard to Naples' relations with the Byzantine Emperor, with numerous local pretenders feuding for possession of the ducal throne. Theoctistus was appointed without imperial approval. However, the disgruntled general populace chased him from the city, instead elected Stephen III, a man who minted coins with his own initials, r
Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Vincenzo Ι Gonzaga was ruler of the Duchy of Mantua and the Duchy of Montferrat from 1587 to 1612. He was the only son of Guglielmo X Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, Archduchess Eleanor of Austria, his maternal grandparents were Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. Vincenzo was a major patron of the arts and sciences, turned Mantua into a vibrant cultural center. On September 22, 1587, Vincent was crowned the fourth Duke of Mantua, with a glitzy ceremony in which were present the highest authority of the duchy to pay homage to the new Duke of Mantua: he moved with a ride through the city streets. Vincenzo employed the painter Peter Paul Rubens. In 1590 Monteverdi became a cantor in the music chapel of Vincenzo. Vincenzo was a friend of the poet Torquato Tasso. A small book published in Verona in 1589 describes how a comic actor named Valerini in the service of Vincenzo imagines an ideal gallery of art, in which statues of the most important art collectors are featured rather than the work of the artists themselves.
Vincenzo was described as a colossus who would dominate the entire ideal gallery, called the Celestial Gallery of Minerva. The astronomer Giovanni Antonio Magini served as tutor to Vincenzo's sons and Ferdinando. Magini's life’s work was the preparation of the Atlante geografico d'Italia, printed posthumously by Magini’s son in 1620; this was intended to include maps of each Italian region with exact nomenclature and historical notes. A major project, its production proved. Vincenzo, to whom the atlas is dedicated, assisted him with this project and allowed for maps of the various states of Italy to be brought to Magini. During the winter of 1603–1604, Galileo visited the Mantuan court in an effort to obtain a position there, was offered a salary, but could not agree on the terms with Vincenzo, who instead presented Galileo with a gold chain and two silver dishes. Vincenzo's spendthrift habits are considered to have accelerated Mantua's economic and cultural decline. Vincenzo was rumored to have been impotent and he is said to have sent a secret expedition to the New World in order to obtain a legendary aphrodisiac.
On 20 July 1588, Emperor Rudolf II granted Vincenzo the right to an escutcheon of Austria, surmounted by an archducal coronet. Vincenzo created the Order of the Redemptor, approved by Pope Paul V, on 25 May 1608. Vincenzo married Margherita Farnese in 1581. On 29 April 1584 he married his first cousin Eleonora de' Medici, the daughter of Francesco I de' Medici and Joanna of Austria. Vincenzo and Eleonora's marriage produced six children, they were: Francesco, who ruled as Francesco IV Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, Duke of Montferrat between 9 February and 22 December 1612. Ferdinando, who ruled as Ferdinando I Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, Duke of Montferrat from 1612 until his death. Guglielmo Domenico, nicknamed "", Marquis of Monferrato. Died in infancy. Margherita, wife of Henry II, Duke of Lorraine Vincenzo, ruled as Vincenzo II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, Marquess of Montferrat from 1626 until his death. Eleonora, second wife of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, he had several illegitimate children, including: by the noble Agnes Argotta, wife of Prospero del Carretto: Francesco Gonzaga, bishop of Nola in 1657 Silvio, Knight of Malta, the court poet Mantovana, Marquis Cavriana Giovanni, Minister of Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga to Turin, where he was the'task to prevent the riding of Ercole Mattioli for the sale of the Monferrato to France of Louis XIV Eleanora, nun.
By the noble FelicitaGuerrieri, daughter of Tullo Guerrieri, master of room of Duke Vincent I, had a daughter:Francesca. Grand Master of the Order of the Redeemer Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece Bellonci, Maria. A Prince of Mantua: The Life and Times of Vincenzo Gonzaga. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Brinton, Selwyn; the Gonzaga. Lords of Mantua. London: Methuen. Fenlon, Iain. Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Is Vincenzo I Gonzaga impotent?: The Medici Archives Museo di Mantova: Heraldic Arms
John the Baptist (Caravaggio)
John the Baptist was the subject of at least eight paintings by the Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The story of John the Baptist is told in the Gospels. John was the cousin of Jesus, his calling was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, he lived in the wilderness of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, "his raiment of camel's hair, a leather girdle about his loins. He baptised Jesus in the Jordan, was killed by Herod Antipas when he called upon the king to reform his evil ways. John was shown in Christian art, identifiable by his bowl, reed cross, camel's skin and lamb; the most popular scene prior to the Counter-Reformation was of John's baptism of Jesus, or else the infant Baptist together with the infant Jesus and Mary his mother supplemented by the Baptist's own mother St Elizabeth. John alone in the desert was not unknown. For the young Caravaggio, John was invariably a youth alone in the wilderness; this image was based on the statement in the Gospel of Luke that "the child grew and was strengthened in spirit, was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation to Israel."
These works allowed a religious treatment of the clothed youths he liked to paint at this period. Apart from these works showing John alone dated to his early years, Caravaggio painted three great narrative scenes of John's death: the great Execution in Malta, two sombre Salomes with his head, one in Madrid, one in London; the ascription of this painting to Caravaggio is disputed - the alternative candidate is Bartolomeo Cavarozzi, an early follower. It is in the collection of the Museo Tesoro Catedralicio and John Gash speculates that it may have been one of the paintings done by Caravaggio for the prior of the Hospital of the Consolation, as Caravaggio's early biographer Mancini tells us. According to Mancini the prior "afterwards took them with him to his homeland". There was a Spanish prior of the hospital in 1593, he may not have left until June 1595. Gash cites scholar A. E. Perez Sanchez's view that while the figure of the saint has certain affinities with Cavarozzi's style, the rest of the picture does not, "and the high quality of certain passages the beautifully depicted vine leaves...is much more characteristic of Caravaggio."
Gash points to the gentle chiaroscuro and the delicate treatment of contours and features, similar stylistic features in early works by Caravaggio such as The Musicians and Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy. If this and other paintings by Caravaggio were indeed in Seville at an early date they may have influenced Velázquez in his early works. However, the arguments in favour of Cavarozzi are strong, he is known to have travelled to Spain about 1617-1619. Peter Robb, taking the painting to be by Caravaggio, dates it to about 1598, when the artist was a member of the household of his first patron, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte. Robb points out that the Baptist is evidently the same boy who modelled for Isaac in the Sacrifice of Isaac, which would date both paintings to around the same period; this Sacrifice of Isaac is disputed, so the problem of authorship is not solved. John is shown against a background of green grape vines and thorny vine stems, seated on a red cloak, holding a thin reed cross and looking down at a sheep lying at his feet.
The red cloak would become one with many precedents in previous art. John the Baptist carries over many of the concerns which animated Caravaggio's other work from this period; the leaves behind the figure, the plants and soil around his feet, are depicted with that careful photographic sense of detail, seen in the contemporary still life Basket of Fruit, while the melancholy self-absorption of the Baptist creates an atmosphere of introspection. The grape leaves stand for the grapes from which the wine of the Last Supper was pressed, while the thorns call to mind the Crown of Thorns, the sheep is a reminder of the Sacrifice of Christ. Caravaggio's decision to paint John the Baptist as a youth was somewhat unusual for the age: the saint was traditionally shown as either an infant, together with the infant Jesus and his own and Jesus's mother, or as an adult in the act of baptising Jesus, it was not without precedent. Leonardo had painted a youthful and enigmatically smiling Baptist with one finger pointing upwards and the other hand seeming to indicate his own breast, while Andrea del Sarto left a Baptist which totally prefigures Caravaggio.
Both Leonardo and del Sarto had created from the figure of John something which seems to hint at an personal meaning, one not accessible to the viewer, Caravaggio was to turn this into something like a personal icon in the course of his many variations on the theme. The model for Amor Vincit was a boy named Cecco, Caravaggio's servant and his pupil as well, he has been tentatively identified with an artist active in Rome about 1610-1625, otherwise known only as Cecco del Caravaggio – Caravaggio's Cecco – who painted much in Caravaggio's style. The most striking feature of Amor was the young model's evident glee in posing for the painting, so that it became rather more a portrait of Cecco than a depiction of a Roman demi-god; the same sense of the real-life model overwhelming the supposed subject was transferred to Mattei's John the Baptist. The youthful John is shown half-reclining, one arm around a ram's neck, his turne