Caravaggio painted two versions of Medusa, the first in 1596 and the other in 1597. The first version is known as Murtula, after poet Gaspare Murtola, who wrote of it: "Flee, for if your eyes are petrified in amazement, she will turn you to stone." It measures 48 by 55 cm and is signed Michel A F, "Michel Angelo made ", Michelangelo being Caravaggio's first name. This work is owned; the second version, shown here, is bigger and is not signed though dated 1597. This work is held in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Caterina Caneva, La Medusa del Caravaggio restaurata, Roma, 2002 Medusa at Web Gallery of Art
The Entombment of Christ (Caravaggio)
Caravaggio created one of his most admired altarpieces, The Entombment of Christ, in 1603–1604 for the second chapel on the right in Santa Maria in Vallicella, a church built for the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri. A copy of the painting is now in the chapel, the original is in the Vatican Pinacoteca; the painting has been copied by artists as diverse as Fragonard, Géricault and Cézanne. On 11 July 1575, Pope Gregory XIII issued a bull confirming the formation of a new society called the Oratory and granting it the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella. Two months after the bull, the rebuilding of the church commenced. Envisaged in the planned reconstruction of the Chiesa Nuova, as it became known, was the dedication of all the altars to the mysteries of the Virgin. Starting in the left transept and continuing around the five chapels on either side of the nave to the right transept, the altars are dedicated to the Presentation of the Temple, the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Circumcision, the Crucifixion, the Pietà, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Ghost, the Assumption and the Coronation.
The Entombment was planned and begun in 1602/3. The chapel in which the Entombment was to be hung, was dedicated to the Pietà, was founded by Pietro Vittrice, a friend of Pope Gregory XIII and close follower of Filippo Neri; the Capella della Pietà occupied a'privileged' position in the Chiesa Nuova: Mass could be celebrated from it and it was granted special indulgences. The chapel, placed in the right nave of the Chiesa Nuova, was conceded to Vittrice in June 1577, the foundation of the chapel ratified in September 1580; some time after his death in March 1600, a legacy of 1,000 scudi became available for the maintenance of the chapel, it was built in 1602, held to be the earliest date for the commission of Caravaggio's painting. Indeed, on 1 September 1604, it is described as'new' in a document recording that it had been paid for by Girolamo Vittrice, Pietro's nephew and heir. Girolamo Vittrice had a direct connection with Caravaggio: in August 1586 he married Orinzia di Lucio Orsi, the sister of Caravaggio's friend Prospero Orsi and the niece of the humanist Aurelio Orsi.
Aurelio, in turn, was a one-time mentor to the young Maffeo Barberini, who became Pope Urban VIII in 1623. It is through these connections that Girolamo's son, became bishop of Alatri in 1632, was able to bestow the gift of Caravaggio's Fortune Teller on Pope Innocent X Pamphilij after being appointed governor of Rome in 1647; the painting was universally admired and written about by such critics as Giulio Mancini, Giovanni Baglione, Gian Pietro Bellori and Francesco Scanelli. The painting was taken to Paris in 1797 for the Musée Napoléon, returned to Rome and installed in the Vatican in 1816; this counter-reformation painting – with a diagonal cascade of mourners and cadaver-bearers descending to the limp, dead Christ and the bare stone – is not a moment of transfiguration, but of mourning. As the viewer's eye descends from the gloom there is, too, a descent from the hysteria of Mary of Clopas through subdued emotion to death as the final emotional silencing. Unlike the gored post-crucifixion Jesus in morbid Spanish displays, Italian Christs die bloodlessly, slump in a geometrically challenging display.
As if emphasizing the dead Christ's inability to feel pain, a hand enters the wound at his side. His body is one of a muscled, thick-limbed laborer rather than the usual, bony-thin depiction. Two men carry the body. John the Evangelist, identified only by his youthful appearance and red cloak supports the dead Christ on his right knee and with his right arm, inadvertently opening the wound. Nicodemus grasps the knees in his arms, with his feet planted at the edge of the slab. Caravaggio balances the stable, dignified position of the body and the unstable exertions of the bearers. While faces are important in painting in Caravaggio it is important always to note where the arms are pointing. Skyward in The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus, towards Levi in The Calling of Saint Matthew. Here, the dead God's fallen arm and immaculate shroud touch stone. In some ways, the message of Christ: God come to earth, mankind reconciled with the heavens; as usual with his works of highest devotion, Caravaggio never fails to ground himself.
In the center is Mary Magdalene, drying her tears with a white handkerchief, face shadowed. Tradition held that the Virgin Mary be depicted as eternally young, but here Caravaggio paints the Virgin as an old woman; the figure of the Virgin Mary is partially obscured behind John. Her right hand hovers above his head. Seen together, the three women constitute complementary expressions of suffering; the left figure imitates the costume from Caravaggio's Penitent Magdalene. Andrew Graham-Dixon asserts that these figures were modelled by Fillide Melandroni, a frequent model in his works and about 22 years old at the time. Caravaggio's composition seems to be related to Michelangelo's Pietà as St. Peters, his Florentine Pietà, from which he takes the figure of Nicodemus. In the latter case, Caravaggio transports Michelangelo self-portrait to his own painting. Althou
Martha and Mary Magdalene (Caravaggio)
Martha and Mary Magdalene is a painting by the Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. It is in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Alternate titles include Martha Reproving Mary, The Conversion of the Magdalene, the Alzaga Caravaggio. Caravaggio's Martha and Mary is dated to 1598–99, when he was in the entourage of Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte. Little is known of its history between those years and 25 June 1971, when its owners attempted to sell it at Christie's in London, it remained unsold at 130,000 guineas, despite the confidence of the restorer Juan Corradini of Buenos Aires. Converts were Benedict Nicolson and Mina Gregori. Today it is considered an autograph work, it was acquired by the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1973. It is thought that the painting was in the collection of Caravaggio's patron Ottavio Costa, his will of 6 August 1606, contains a painting by this description and states that Riggerio Tritonio, secretary of Cardinal Montalto, is to choose between the Martha and Mary and a Saint Francis.
Since the Saint Francis appears in the inventory of Tritinio, it has been assumed that the Martha and Mary passed to Herrera in late 1606. Giovanni Enriquez de Herrera died on 1 March 1610, without a will, thus leaving his four sons to decide on the fate of his possessions, it has been speculated that it remained in Rome until the 1620s, but the only firm evidence for its provenance after the Herrera family is a seal and inscriptions on the back of the original canvas with the names Niccolò Panzani, Emilia Panzani and Anna E. Panzani; this family has not been traced. Since its rediscovery, its influence has become apparent, most notably in the number of copies, a now lost work by Carlo Saraceni and a well known version by Orazio Gentileschi, today in Munich; the painting shows the sisters Mary from the New Testament. Martha is in the act of converting Mary from her life of pleasure to the life of virtue in Christ. Martha, her face shadowed, leans forward, passionately arguing with Mary, who twirls an orange blossom between her fingers as she holds a mirror, symbolising the vanity she is about to give up.
The power of the image lies in Mary's face, caught at the moment. Martha and Mary was painted while Caravaggio was living in the palazzo of his patron, Cardinal Del Monte, his paintings for Del Monte fall into two groups: the secular genre pieces such as The Musicians, The Lute Player, Bacchus - all featuring boys and youths in somewhat claustophobic interior scenes - and religious images such as Rest on the Flight into Egypt and Ecstasy of Saint Francis. Among the religious paintings was a group of four works featuring the same two female models, together or singly; the models were two well-known courtesans who frequented the palazzi of Del Monte and other wealthy and powerful art patrons, their names were Anna Bianchini and Fillide Melandroni. Anna Bianchini appeared first as a solitary Mary Magdalene in the Penitent Magdalene of about 1597. Fillide Melandroni appeared in a secular Portrait of a Courtesan done the same year for Del Monte's friend and fellow art-lover, the banker Vincenzo Giustiniani.
In 1598 Caravaggio painted Fillide again as Saint Catherine, capturing a beauty full of intelligence and spirit. In Martha and Mary the two are shown together, Fillide fitted to the role of Mary, Anna to the mousier but insistent presence as Martha. A finely grained cream-brown table running in front of the sisters displays three objects, of which a Venetian mirror is the most obvious, it reflects the Magdalen's hand and a rectangular window, to which reflection her middle finger points. The other two objects are a dish with a sponge; the type of dish was called a sponzarol by the Venetians and, in this case, is made of alabaster. Mary wears red, the colour of the Magdalen, a dress similar to one Caravaggio employs in his Portrait of a Courtesan and Saint Catherine, with embroidery on the blouse, similar to what we see in his Penitent Magdalen; the writings of the Church Fathers established Martha and Mary as representative of the active versus the contemplative aspects of Christian faith. This distinction was exemplified in art like Bernardino Luini's Martha and Mary, once in the Barberini Collection in Rome, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.
Caravaggio would have known the painting. The painting was investigated by the scientists at the Detroit Institute of Arts; the pigment analysis revealed the usual pigments of the Baroque period such as lead white and yellow ochre and azurite
The Pastoral Concert, Fête champêtre or Le Concert champêtre is an oil painting of c. 1509 attributed to either of the Italian Renaissance masters, Titian or Giorgione. It is in the Musée du Louvre in Paris; the painting was attributed to Giorgione, but modern critics assign it more to the younger Titian, as the figures' robustness is thought more typical of his style. It is possible that Giorgione began the work, after his death in 1510, it was finished by Titian; the work was owned by the Gonzaga family inherited from Isabella d'Este: it was sold to Charles I of England. When the English royal collections were dispersed following the revolution of 1649, the painting was sold at auction to the German banker and art collector, Eberhard Jabach, who, in turn, sold it to Louis XIV in 1671; the painting was attributed to Palma the Elder and Sebastiano del Piombo.Édouard Manet conceived his Le déjeuner sur l'herbe after viewing the Pastoral Concert in a visit to the Louvre museum. The painting portrays three young people on a lawn, playing music together, while next to them a standing woman is pouring water from a marble basin.
Both the women are naked apart from drapes that have fallen to their legs. In the wide background is a shepherd and a landscape; the subject was the allegory of poetry and music: the two women would be an imaginary apparition representing the ideal beauty, stemming from the two men's fantasy and inspiration. The woman with the glass vase would be the muse of tragic poetry, while the other one would be that of the pastoral poetry. Of the two playing men, the one with the lute would represent the exalted lyric poetry, the other being an ordinary lyricist, according to the distinction made by Aristotle in his Poetics. Another interpretation suggests that the painting is an evocation of the four elements of the natural world and their harmonic relationship. "The Pastoral Concert". Department of Paintings: Italian painting. Musée du Louvre
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian painter active in Rome, Naples and Sicily from the early 1590s to 1610. His paintings combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, which had a formative influence on Baroque painting. Caravaggio employed close physical observation with a dramatic use of chiaroscuro that came to be known as tenebrism, he made the technique a dominant stylistic element, darkening shadows and transfixing subjects in bright shafts of light. Caravaggio vividly expressed crucial moments and scenes featuring violent struggles and death, he worked with live models, preferring to forgo drawings and work directly onto the canvas. His influence on the new Baroque style that emerged from Mannerism was profound, it can be seen directly or indirectly in the work of Peter Paul Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Rembrandt, artists in the following generation under his influence were called the "Caravaggisti" or "Caravagesques", as well as tenebrists or tenebrosi.
Caravaggio trained as a painter in Milan before moving in his twenties to Rome. He developed a considerable name as an artist, as a violent and provocative man. A brawl forced him to flee to Naples. There he again established himself as one of the most prominent Italian painters of his generation, he traveled in 1607 to Malta and on to Sicily, pursued a papal pardon for his sentence. In 1609 he returned to Naples. Questions about his mental state arose from his bizarre behavior, he died in 1610 under uncertain circumstances while on his way from Naples to Rome. Reports stated that he died of a fever, but suggestions have been made that he was murdered or that he died of lead poisoning. Caravaggio's innovations inspired Baroque painting, but the Baroque incorporated the drama of his chiaroscuro without the psychological realism; the style evolved and fashions changed, Caravaggio fell out of favor. In the 20th century interest in his work revived, his importance to the development of Western art was reevaluated.
The 20th-century art historian André Berne-Joffroy stated, "What begins in the work of Caravaggio is, quite modern painting." Caravaggio was born in Milan, where his father, was a household administrator and architect-decorator to the Marchese of Caravaggio, a town not far from the city of Bergamo. In 1576 the family moved to Caravaggio to escape a plague that ravaged Milan, Caravaggio's father and grandfather both died there on the same day in 1577, it is assumed that the artist grew up in Caravaggio, but his family kept up connections with the Sforzas and with the powerful Colonna family, who were allied by marriage with the Sforzas and destined to play a major role in Caravaggio's life. Caravaggio's mother died in 1584, the same year he began his four-year apprenticeship to the Milanese painter Simone Peterzano, described in the contract of apprenticeship as a pupil of Titian. Caravaggio appears to have stayed in the Milan-Caravaggio area after his apprenticeship ended, but it is possible that he visited Venice and saw the works of Giorgione, whom Federico Zuccari accused him of imitating, Titian.
He would have become familiar with the art treasures of Milan, including Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, with the regional Lombard art, a style that valued simplicity and attention to naturalistic detail and was closer to the naturalism of Germany than to the stylised formality and grandeur of Roman Mannerism. Following his initial training under Simone Peterzano, in 1592 Caravaggio left Milan for Rome, in flight after "certain quarrels" and the wounding of a police officer; the young artist arrived in Rome "naked and needy... without fixed address and without provision... short of money." During this period he stayed with the miserly Pandolfo Pucci, known as "monnsignor Insalata". A few months he was performing hack-work for the successful Giuseppe Cesari, Pope Clement VIII's favourite artist, "painting flowers and fruit" in his factory-like workshop. In Rome there was demand for paintings to fill the many huge new churches and palazzos being built at the time, it was a period when the Church was searching for a stylistic alternative to Mannerism in religious art, tasked to counter the threat of Protestantism.
Caravaggio's innovation was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic theatrical, use of chiaroscuro that came to be known as tenebrism. Known works from this period include a small Boy Peeling a Fruit, a Boy with a Basket of Fruit, the Young Sick Bacchus a self-portrait done during convalescence from a serious illness that ended his employment with Cesari. All three demonstrate the physical particularity for which Caravaggio was to become renowned: the fruit-basket-boy's produce has been analysed by a professor of horticulture, able to identify individual cultivars right down to "... a large fig leaf with a prominent fungal scorch lesion resembling anthracnose."Caravaggio left Cesari, determined to make his own way after a heated argument. At this point he forged some important friendships, with the painter Prospero Orsi, the architect Onorio Longhi, the sixteen-year-old Sicilian artist Mario Minniti. Orsi
Judith Beheading Holofernes (Caravaggio)
Judith Beheading Holofernes is a painting of Judith beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio, painted in c. 1598–1599. The widow Judith first charms the Syrian general Holofernes decapitates him in his tent; the painting was rediscovered in 1950 and is part of the collection of the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Rome. The deuterocanonical Book of Judith tells how Judith served her people by seducing and pleasuring Holofernes, the Syrian General. Judith gets Holofernes drunk seizes her sword and slays him: "Approaching to his bed, she took hold of the hair of his head". Caravaggio's approach was to choose the moment of greatest dramatic impact: the moment of decapitation itself; the figures are set out in a shallow stage, theatrically lit from the side, isolated against the inky black background. Judith's maid Abra stands beside her mistress to the right as Judith extends her arm to hold a blade against Holofernes's neck. X-rays have revealed that Caravaggio adjusted the placement of Holofernes' head as he proceeded, separating it from the torso and moving it minutely to the right.
The faces of the three characters demonstrate the artist's mastery of emotion, Judith's countenance in particular showing a mix of determination and repulsion. Artemisia Gentileschi and others were influenced by this work; the model for Judith is the Roman courtesan Fillide Melandroni, who posed for several other works by Caravaggio around this year. A painting believed by some to be Caravaggio's second version of Judith Beheading Holofernes was discovered in Toulouse in 2014. An export ban was placed on the painting by the French government while tests were carried out to establish its authenticity. In February 2019 it was announced that the painting would be sold at auction after the Louvre had turned down the opportunity to purchase it for €100 million. Judith and Holofernes
Young Sick Bacchus
The Young Sick Bacchus known as the Sick Bacchus or the Self-Portrait as Bacchus, is an early self-portrait by the Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, dated between 1593 and 1594. It now hangs in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. According to Caravaggio's first biographer, Giovanni Baglione, it was a cabinet piece painted by the artist using a mirror; the painting dates from Caravaggio's first years in Rome following his arrival from his native Milan in mid-1592. Sources for this period are inconclusive and inaccurate, but they agree that at one point the artist fell ill and spent six months in the hospital of Santa Maria della Consolazione. According to a 2009 article in the American medical publication Clinical Infectious Diseases, the painting indicates that Caravaggio's physical ailment involved malaria, as the jaundiced appearance of the skin and the icterus in the eyes are indications of some active hepatic disease causing high levels of bilirubin; the Sick Bacchus was among the many works making up the collection of Giuseppe Cesari, one of Caravaggio's early employers, seized by the art-collector Cardinal-Nephew Scipione Borghese in 1607, together with the Boy Peeling Fruit and Boy with a Basket of Fruit.
Apart from its assumed autobiographical content, this early painting was used by Caravaggio to market himself, demonstrating his virtuosity in painting genres such as still-life and portraits and hinting at the ability to paint the classical figures of antiquity. The three-quarters angle of the face was among those preferred for late renaissance portraiture, but what is striking is the grimace and tilt of the head, the real sense of the suffering; the still-life can be compared with that contained in later works such as the Boy With a Basket of Fruit and the Boy Bitten by a Lizard where the fruits are in a much better condition, reflecting no doubt Caravaggio's improved condition, both physically and mentally. The painting shows the influence of his teacher, the Bergamasque Simone Peterzano, in the utilization of the tensed musculature depiction, of the austere Lombard school style in its attention to realistic details. Cindy Sherman, as part of her History Portrait series, produced a parody on Sick Bacchus, an ironic photographic self-portrait named Untitled # 224.
During a 2018 NPR interview, Paul Janeway of the band St. Paul & the Broken Bones said that the title of his band's new album, Young Sick Camellia, is an homage to Caravaggio's Young Sick Bacchus. Chronology of works by Caravaggio