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Caravaggi
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First created Jun 2005. Version 3.0 - 3 Mar 2018. Daperro. London.
All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners.
Available free for non-commercial, Educational and personal use.
Medusa. 1597. Caravaggio.
A Genius and a Rebel
Tragedy of a Genius ?
Was Caravaggio’s life the tragedy of a
genius or an Evil one inspired by a demon?
Ruskin, a critic and social theorist, saw his
art as ‘signs of an evil mind, ill repressed’
in particular highlighting the ‘perpetual
seeking for and feeding upon horror and
ugliness, and filthiness of sin’.
Portrait of Caravaggio (Detail) by Ottavio Leoni.
‘Greatly respect reality’
Giulio Mancini, 1619
1571 Born 29 Sept in Milan
1577 Father dies
1584 Apprenticeship with Simone Peterzano
until 1588
1592 Moved to Rome
1599 First public commission
1603 Litigated for defamation.
1605 Arrested for carrying a fire arm without a
permit, in a fight. Wounded a lawyer.
1606 Flees Rome for Naples following murder
1608 Stays in Malta and becomes a knight
1609 Returns to Naples badly wounded
1610 Dies of malaria on 18th July.
Caravaggio has a very short professional career
(less than 20 years). There are some 90 known
paintings by him today.
For simplicity, we can divide his professional life
3 periods :-
1 His Bacchus years as a budding artist.
2 His Prime years, when he won his first public
commission and started to paint large scale
canvases, as an professional artist.
3 His Fugitive years, after he killed a man and
running away from the law
Milestone in His Life
Paintings from 1596-7, 1600-1, 1606-7.
Bacchus
Years
1592-1599
Prime
Years
1599-1606
Fugitive
Years
1606-1610
Early Bacchus paintings
Early in his career, Caravaggio painted a serious of sensuous and erotically provocative homo-
eroticism paintings. These are his ‘Bacchus paintings’.
Bacchus Portraits
The Sick Bacchus (Self Portrait)
The Sick Bacchus (Detail. A self-portrait).
c1593. Galleria Borghese, Rome.
Caravaggio arrived in Rome in 1592.
One of the earliest Bacchus painting
was his self-portrait known as the ‘Sick
Bacchus’. He painted himself possibly
because he was not able to afford a
model. This is the first depiction of a
self portrait in which the painter was
the main subject of the painting.
Boy with a Basket of Fruit. c1594.
This painting contrasts the
youthful adult with the
over-ripe fruits and rotting
leaves. There is a hint of
melancholy in his eyes. The
basket of fruits was given
equal importance as the
portrait.
Boy with a Basket of Fruit
His early paintings usually
have a shallow background
with limited palette of earth
colours. He was known for
using models, instead of
conventional and idealized
characters.
Rome Period
Bacchus, 1596.
The Young Bacchus
Caravaggio painted a shaking
hand with ripples on the wine.
The laurel in the Sick Bacchus
became a crown of vine leaves.
Caravaggio was not the first to paint the
masculine beauty. Michelangelo spent all his life
depicting it, either in paint or in sculpture. The
origin of male nude dated back to the Ancient
Greek. What make Caravaggio’s ‘Bacchus
paintings’ particularly provocative were the age
of his subjects.
Ignudi. 1509. Michelangelo. Sistine Chpael
Some speculated that Caravaggio was a
homosexual, but there is no documented evidence
that he was. With his volatile personality one can
never be sure.
Some commentators suggested that Caravaggio
painted these paintings to satisfy a particular
taste. Cardinal Francesco Del Monte, his patron,
was indulged in a hedonistic lifestyle.
So Caravaggio might have painted these for
money or even for a cheeky amusement. After
Caravaggio first successful public commission,
when he became well known, he only painted a
couple of this type painting for the rest of his life.
Is Caravaggio a homosexual?
Caravaggio’s Still Life
Caravaggio was one of the first Italian still life painter. In his early paintings he often
include fruits. He also liked to have the basket of fruits delicately balanced on the edge
of the table, as if it is about to fall off the painting and into our space. On the odd
occasions he included other still life objects, like a jar of water or a jug of wine.
Details. The Supper at Emmaus. C1600-01. Details. Repentant Magdalene. C1596-97.
Still Life
Basket of Fruits
This is a masterpiece of painting by Caravaggio. When he made this, nobody had seen anything like it
since the Roman some 1500 years ago. It sparked off a new beginning in still life painting. The painting
was full of details, marvellously painted with perfection. Yet the fruits were full of imperfections, insect
holes, predications, pest damages as the rots were setting in. He painted these fruits again and again, as
if he was telling us something about life, death, decays, temptations as well as beauty. Note also the
basket was balanced on a knife-edge, as if the basket in about to fall into our own space.
Vanitas
We often find an intrusive skull on Dutch still life painting, like the painting by Frans Hals (left). It is
known as a Vanitas, after the goddess of Truth. In Western art, it is a comment on the transient nature
of life, that all of us will died someday. Caravaggio’s basket of fruits was his Vanitas, reminding us of
our own mortality. Caravaggio was fiercely original and no other established artist did this since.
Bacchus
Bacchus (Detail), 1596.
The First Public Commission
His first public commission was big. Caravaggio had never painted such large canvases before. It was
at a time when the Catholic church was facing the challenge from the protestant and responded with a
display of their the Catholic wealth, to make Rome the unrivalled capital of Christianity.
First Success
The Calling of St Matthew. 1599-1600.
The Calling of St Matthew
Having the his first public commission was an
important turning point for Caravaggio. It
marked the successful transformation of
Caravaggio as an established religious painter.
Prior to this period, Caravaggio experienced
poverty and struggled to make a living in
Rome. He nearly died, from the plague. He
had convalesced to the nuns’ care. The
experience marked him forever. The exact time
is uncertain. It was either during 1593 to 1595
or during 1598. 1598 is more likely.
In taking on the commission, he had
considerable problems to fulfil the contract,
mainly due to his fiercely realistic approach to
religious subjects. He had to modify and to
repaint some of the paintings, several times.
Yet like this extraordinary realistic depiction of
the aging old man (the identity St Mathew in
the painting is ambiguous) with his spectacles,
without any glamour or grandiose,
Caravaggio did what no one did before.
The Calling of St Matthew
The Calling of St Matthew
The Inspiration of St Matthew
The original work was rejected on the grounds of
indecurum, because Caravaggio had painted the
Saint’s dirty foot sticking out of the painting at eye
level. The painting was replaced by a different
version of the painting.
In these painting, Caravaggio had formally adopted
his technique of chiaroscuro – light-dark.
A recoloured first version of the painting from a black and white
photo. The painting was destroy in WW 2.
The Martyrdom of St Matthew
The Martyrdom of St Matthew
Self Portrait, The Martyrdom of St Matthew . Detail.
On the Martyrdom of St Matthew,
Caravaggio painted the moment of his
martyrdom. St Matthew was linked to the
naked executioner through the arm that
grasps him. St Matthew also raised his hand
to defend himself and also a palm frond
offered to him by an angel. Other characters
arranged in a circle, were in dismay.
St Matthew, The Martyrdom of St Matthew.
Caravaggio was obsessed about beheading. He painted a series of paintings on the subjects, reflecting
his nature of a violent man. In later paintings, he used his own beheaded head to substitute for the
victim’s head, as if he was say “here is my head, come and get it”.
His Beheading paintings
Beheading
Judith Beheading Holofernes. 1598-1602.
Judith Beheading Holofernes
Versions of Judith Beheading Holofernes
Caravaggio 1598-1602.
The lacking of a more precise dating (either before or after
Caravaggio first public commission) and the history of the
painting, make it more difficult to understand the
circumstances when Caravaggio painted the work.
Caravaggio had chosen the most horrific moment of
partial decapitation. Judith was shown with mixed
emotion of determination and repulsion. This painting is
the first of a series of painting on decapitation. However,
the painting does add to our understanding to the violent
nature of Caravaggio, the man, with numerous criminal
records of violence.
Disputed Caravaggio c1607
Artemisia c1614-20
The second painting is hotly disputed
as a Caravaggio’s painting (left) on
the same subject found in an attic in
2014, Toulouse, France.
The Artemisia version (right) was
painted in 1614-20 by the daughter of
Caravaggio’s friend Orazio Gentileschi.
I think her version is much more
believable. Artemisia was greatly
affected by Caravaggio’s painting. She
painted herself as Judith and her rapist
Agostino Tassi as Holofernes.
David with the Head of
Goliath. c1605 or 1610 .
David and Goliath
Did Caravaggio offer his head for
exchange of pardon?
Portraits
It was suggested that Caravaggio always used models for his portraits. In his early career, he used
himself and friends to pose for him, like his girlfriend Fillide Melandroni (above). But it was the realism
of his saints that distinguishes Caravaggio from other painters, in breaking with traditions.
Conversion of Magdalene. 1598.
Conversion of Magdalene
Conversion of Magdalene (Detail). 1598.
Conversion of Magdalene
St Jerome. 1605-06. painted at the height of his career.
Saint Jerome
Portrait of Alof de Wignacourt. 1608.
Malta Period
The Supper at Emmaus
The Supper at Emmaus. c1601. National Gallery, London
Supper at Emmaus. 1601. Caravaggio. National Gallery. London.
The Bible tells the story of two apostles meeting a stranger on their way
to the village of Emmaus. They talked about Jesus’ Crucifixion and his
body’s disappearance from his tomb.
At dinner, the stranger blessed and broke the bread, prompting the
apostles to recognize that the stranger was Jesus. He then vanished from
their sight.
On the left of the painting was
probably Cleophas, one of the
apostles. On the opposite was
Peter, who wore a sea shell to
show he was a pilgrim. The
innkeeper was depicted standing
beside Jesus.
Why did the apostles not
recognise Jesus?
Supper at Emmaus 1601
In the age of oil-lamps and flickering candles, the
painting’s dark background can easily blend into its
surroundings, creating an illusion of reality.
Supper at Emmaus 1601
Jesus was depicted as a young beardless man with a
feminine look wearing a bright red gown, different from
the traditional images of Christ. Perhaps it was the
changed appearance of a resurrected Jesus that his
apostles did not immediately recognise him?
The Innkeeper, with a scarf on his head, was looking at
Jesus, emotionless. Why did Caravaggio include him? Was
he there to represent the non-believers? Or did he see
Jesus as just another man?
Peter (presumed) with
foreshortening arms penetrating
into the observer’s space.
Cleophas, wearing a rag, with
arms supporting himself.
A solemn Jesus with an unimpressed innkeeper. The
innkeeper’s shadow conveniently casting a halo above
Jesus.
The apostles were clothed like labourers and
not in robes. Cleophas’ coat had a hole at the
elbow, which protruded from the painting. He
was shown pushing himself up at the moment
Jesus revealed his true identity, by blessing the
bread.
Peter, with his crooked nose and untidy hair,
threw his foreshortened arms in a gesture of
utter astonishment, echoing the Crucifixion. His
arm stuck out from the painting, his right hand
looked ‘out of focus’ and slightly larger than his
left.
Supper at Emmaus – the people
Caravaggio could only have copied the fruits in autumn, even though
the Resurrection occurred around Easter. He was originally trained as a
still-life painter and took the subject seriously, declaring that ‘it took as
much skill to paint a good picture of flowers as of figures’.
On the table there were bread, water and wine, a roasted chicken and a
wicker basket full of over-ripe fruits, painted to the smallest detail –
lesions, fungal spots and worm holes. The rotting fruits symbolized
death, decay and the transient nature of life. Pomegranate was used
as a metaphor for the crown of thorns and the apples & the figs
represent man’s original sin. The wilting vine leaves and grapes related
to red wine; the blood of Christ.
What sort of light illuminates the
painting? The most likely
explanation is that the painting
must been painted in a cellar with
a small window with a strong
beam of sunlight. The basket
teetering on the edge of the
table. Some say it creates
tension. Others, suggest it
creates an illusion effect of the
basket falling out of the painting. I
think, an apostles had shifted the
table accidentally, in the
confusion of recognising the
resurrected Jesus
Supper at Emmaus – the table
Supper of Emmaus. 1601. Caravaggio. National Gallery. London.
Supper of Emmaus. 1606. Oil. Caravaggio. Pinacoteca di Brera. Milan
This work of the same event was
painted by Caravaggio, whilst he
was on the run, after he had
committed murder. It was five to six
years after the original and included
an extra person, a maid.
Far more subdued, with figures
emerging into the light, a limited
palette was used with no bright
colours. His later paintings all
shared this quality.
This image of Christ was more traditional. The expressions of the subjects were more sober, their
gestures restrained and less theatrical. The table is comparatively bare including bread, a bowl, a
plate and a jug. The basket of fruits is gone. The subjects are older, their youthfulness disappeared.
A transformation from a rich, colourful and dramatic depiction to a darker and more ‘mundane’
vision of the same event. Does this reflect the state of Caravaggio’s mind while on the run?
Supper at Emmaus 1606
Supper of Emmaus. 1606. Pinacoteca di Brera. Milan
Supper at Emmaus 1606
The man and his arts
The Incredulity of St Thomas. 1601-02.
Rome Period
The Entombment. 1602-03.
Rome Period
An uncompromised realistic Virgin Mary,
painted as an old woman. Have you ever
seen an aging Madonna?
The Death of the Virgin (Detail).
1605-06. Note the slightly
swollen body of the corpse.
Rome Period
Madonna del Rosario. 1607.
Post Rome Period
The Martyrdom of St Ursula
The Martyrdom of St Ursula, 1610.
St Ursula refused to marry a pagan Hun, who fired an arrow at her, at point blank. This was
Caravaggio’s last painting.
Caravaggio, the man
Michelangelo Merisi, commonly known as Caravaggio,
was very influential in the history of painting.
Born in Milan c1571, he served his art apprenticeship.
He then moved to Rome in search of work between
1588-1590.
His life was unruly, dramatic and violent. Constantly in
trouble with the police for street brawls, he committed
a murder in 1606 which forced him to be on the run,
for the rest of his life.
Caravaggio fled to Naples, then to Malta (1607)
where he was knighted by the Order of St. John. After
assaulting a justiciary, he was imprisoned.
Subsequently he escaped to Sicily and went to Naples
in 1609 where his enemies finally caught up with him.
The following year he travelled by boat to Porto
Ercole (nr. Rome), where he was arrested by mistake
and released. He contracted a fever here and died on
the 18 July 1610, age 38.
The severed head of Goliath, painted
in 1609-10, is probably a self-portrait.
Shown offering his own head, like a
hunted creature, wanted by the
authorities and enemies alike.
The Technique & Styles
The single most important hallmark of Caravaggio’s
painting styles is a dark, often shallow background,
with the use of limited earth colours. Mostly
illuminated by a single strong light source, diagonally,
creating a stark contrast between brightness and
blackness (chiaroscuro).
He painted with a vivid and uncompromising sense
of realism, exemplified by dirty feet, rotting fruits,
shabby, ageing saints and the use of coarse peasant
type in contemporary clothing. His paintings are
overwhelmed with the truthfulness of seeing and all
the subtleness of humanity; its highs and its lows.
Caravaggio liked to shock, using provocative,
dramatic and violent images - bold gestures,
deliberate brutality, severed heads, streams of blood,
probing wound. He challenged accepted
conventions and in his painting, The Death of the
Virgin, he used a prostitute (allegedly his girlfriend
Lena) as model for the Madonna.
The Death of the Virgin (Detail). 1606. Oil on canvas.
Musee du Louvre, Paris. The painting was rejected by the
church, as it was rumoured that Caravaggio’s model was
‘a dirty whore from the Ortaccio’. Many of his works
offended religious sensibilities.
Judith Beheading
Holofernes (Detail) 1598-9.
The Doubting Thomas
(Detail). c1603. Potsdam.
Caravaggio reacted against the falsehood of
mannerism and created realism.
Caravaggio establishes the notion of the
rebellious artist, an anti-establishment
figure commentating on society,
challenging our preconceived ideas with a
fiercely unique style, like the coarse peasant
type apostle.
With his passionate belief in the individual
and his uncompromising realism.
Caravaggio remains an extraordinary
painter with an equally controversial life;
violent by nature and a known killer.
Artist as a Rebel
Portrait of Caravaggio (Detail) by Ottavio Leoni.
With his basket of rotten fruits, swollen
corpse and aging Madonna, he had left us
unique images as his testaments to his
originality.
Caravaggisti - His followers
His Famous Followers
It is almost impossible to overestimate the influence of
Caravaggio. He was widely admired and an extremely
influential painter of 17th century.
Among his followers were Orazio Gentileschi (Italian),
Artemisia Gentileschi (daughter), Velazquez (Spanish),
Murillo (Spanish), La Tour (French), Rubens (Belgium) and
Rembrandt (Dutch).
La Tour – Card Players Rembrandt – Anatomy Lecture
Valazquez – Egg Fryer
Is a film like Pretty Baby, in which Brooke Shields plays a 12 year old prostitute directed by Louis Malle, part of the Caravaggio tradition?
Music – Beethoven. Violin No in G Minor :
II Adagio.
All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners. Available
free for non-commercial and personal use.
The
End
1571 - 1610
Caravaggio on the 100,000 lira bank note
Caravaggio - Genius and Rebel

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Caravaggio - Genius and Rebel

  • 1. Caravaggi o First created Jun 2005. Version 3.0 - 3 Mar 2018. Daperro. London. All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners. Available free for non-commercial, Educational and personal use. Medusa. 1597. Caravaggio. A Genius and a Rebel
  • 2. Tragedy of a Genius ? Was Caravaggio’s life the tragedy of a genius or an Evil one inspired by a demon? Ruskin, a critic and social theorist, saw his art as ‘signs of an evil mind, ill repressed’ in particular highlighting the ‘perpetual seeking for and feeding upon horror and ugliness, and filthiness of sin’. Portrait of Caravaggio (Detail) by Ottavio Leoni. ‘Greatly respect reality’ Giulio Mancini, 1619
  • 3. 1571 Born 29 Sept in Milan 1577 Father dies 1584 Apprenticeship with Simone Peterzano until 1588 1592 Moved to Rome 1599 First public commission 1603 Litigated for defamation. 1605 Arrested for carrying a fire arm without a permit, in a fight. Wounded a lawyer. 1606 Flees Rome for Naples following murder 1608 Stays in Malta and becomes a knight 1609 Returns to Naples badly wounded 1610 Dies of malaria on 18th July. Caravaggio has a very short professional career (less than 20 years). There are some 90 known paintings by him today. For simplicity, we can divide his professional life 3 periods :- 1 His Bacchus years as a budding artist. 2 His Prime years, when he won his first public commission and started to paint large scale canvases, as an professional artist. 3 His Fugitive years, after he killed a man and running away from the law Milestone in His Life Paintings from 1596-7, 1600-1, 1606-7. Bacchus Years 1592-1599 Prime Years 1599-1606 Fugitive Years 1606-1610
  • 4. Early Bacchus paintings Early in his career, Caravaggio painted a serious of sensuous and erotically provocative homo- eroticism paintings. These are his ‘Bacchus paintings’. Bacchus Portraits
  • 5. The Sick Bacchus (Self Portrait) The Sick Bacchus (Detail. A self-portrait). c1593. Galleria Borghese, Rome. Caravaggio arrived in Rome in 1592. One of the earliest Bacchus painting was his self-portrait known as the ‘Sick Bacchus’. He painted himself possibly because he was not able to afford a model. This is the first depiction of a self portrait in which the painter was the main subject of the painting.
  • 6. Boy with a Basket of Fruit. c1594. This painting contrasts the youthful adult with the over-ripe fruits and rotting leaves. There is a hint of melancholy in his eyes. The basket of fruits was given equal importance as the portrait. Boy with a Basket of Fruit His early paintings usually have a shallow background with limited palette of earth colours. He was known for using models, instead of conventional and idealized characters.
  • 8. Bacchus, 1596. The Young Bacchus Caravaggio painted a shaking hand with ripples on the wine. The laurel in the Sick Bacchus became a crown of vine leaves.
  • 9. Caravaggio was not the first to paint the masculine beauty. Michelangelo spent all his life depicting it, either in paint or in sculpture. The origin of male nude dated back to the Ancient Greek. What make Caravaggio’s ‘Bacchus paintings’ particularly provocative were the age of his subjects. Ignudi. 1509. Michelangelo. Sistine Chpael Some speculated that Caravaggio was a homosexual, but there is no documented evidence that he was. With his volatile personality one can never be sure. Some commentators suggested that Caravaggio painted these paintings to satisfy a particular taste. Cardinal Francesco Del Monte, his patron, was indulged in a hedonistic lifestyle. So Caravaggio might have painted these for money or even for a cheeky amusement. After Caravaggio first successful public commission, when he became well known, he only painted a couple of this type painting for the rest of his life. Is Caravaggio a homosexual?
  • 10. Caravaggio’s Still Life Caravaggio was one of the first Italian still life painter. In his early paintings he often include fruits. He also liked to have the basket of fruits delicately balanced on the edge of the table, as if it is about to fall off the painting and into our space. On the odd occasions he included other still life objects, like a jar of water or a jug of wine. Details. The Supper at Emmaus. C1600-01. Details. Repentant Magdalene. C1596-97. Still Life
  • 12. This is a masterpiece of painting by Caravaggio. When he made this, nobody had seen anything like it since the Roman some 1500 years ago. It sparked off a new beginning in still life painting. The painting was full of details, marvellously painted with perfection. Yet the fruits were full of imperfections, insect holes, predications, pest damages as the rots were setting in. He painted these fruits again and again, as if he was telling us something about life, death, decays, temptations as well as beauty. Note also the basket was balanced on a knife-edge, as if the basket in about to fall into our own space.
  • 13. Vanitas We often find an intrusive skull on Dutch still life painting, like the painting by Frans Hals (left). It is known as a Vanitas, after the goddess of Truth. In Western art, it is a comment on the transient nature of life, that all of us will died someday. Caravaggio’s basket of fruits was his Vanitas, reminding us of our own mortality. Caravaggio was fiercely original and no other established artist did this since.
  • 15. The First Public Commission His first public commission was big. Caravaggio had never painted such large canvases before. It was at a time when the Catholic church was facing the challenge from the protestant and responded with a display of their the Catholic wealth, to make Rome the unrivalled capital of Christianity. First Success
  • 16. The Calling of St Matthew. 1599-1600. The Calling of St Matthew
  • 17. Having the his first public commission was an important turning point for Caravaggio. It marked the successful transformation of Caravaggio as an established religious painter. Prior to this period, Caravaggio experienced poverty and struggled to make a living in Rome. He nearly died, from the plague. He had convalesced to the nuns’ care. The experience marked him forever. The exact time is uncertain. It was either during 1593 to 1595 or during 1598. 1598 is more likely. In taking on the commission, he had considerable problems to fulfil the contract, mainly due to his fiercely realistic approach to religious subjects. He had to modify and to repaint some of the paintings, several times. Yet like this extraordinary realistic depiction of the aging old man (the identity St Mathew in the painting is ambiguous) with his spectacles, without any glamour or grandiose, Caravaggio did what no one did before. The Calling of St Matthew
  • 18. The Calling of St Matthew
  • 19. The Inspiration of St Matthew The original work was rejected on the grounds of indecurum, because Caravaggio had painted the Saint’s dirty foot sticking out of the painting at eye level. The painting was replaced by a different version of the painting. In these painting, Caravaggio had formally adopted his technique of chiaroscuro – light-dark. A recoloured first version of the painting from a black and white photo. The painting was destroy in WW 2.
  • 20. The Martyrdom of St Matthew
  • 21. The Martyrdom of St Matthew Self Portrait, The Martyrdom of St Matthew . Detail. On the Martyrdom of St Matthew, Caravaggio painted the moment of his martyrdom. St Matthew was linked to the naked executioner through the arm that grasps him. St Matthew also raised his hand to defend himself and also a palm frond offered to him by an angel. Other characters arranged in a circle, were in dismay. St Matthew, The Martyrdom of St Matthew.
  • 22. Caravaggio was obsessed about beheading. He painted a series of paintings on the subjects, reflecting his nature of a violent man. In later paintings, he used his own beheaded head to substitute for the victim’s head, as if he was say “here is my head, come and get it”. His Beheading paintings Beheading
  • 23. Judith Beheading Holofernes. 1598-1602. Judith Beheading Holofernes
  • 24. Versions of Judith Beheading Holofernes Caravaggio 1598-1602. The lacking of a more precise dating (either before or after Caravaggio first public commission) and the history of the painting, make it more difficult to understand the circumstances when Caravaggio painted the work. Caravaggio had chosen the most horrific moment of partial decapitation. Judith was shown with mixed emotion of determination and repulsion. This painting is the first of a series of painting on decapitation. However, the painting does add to our understanding to the violent nature of Caravaggio, the man, with numerous criminal records of violence. Disputed Caravaggio c1607 Artemisia c1614-20 The second painting is hotly disputed as a Caravaggio’s painting (left) on the same subject found in an attic in 2014, Toulouse, France. The Artemisia version (right) was painted in 1614-20 by the daughter of Caravaggio’s friend Orazio Gentileschi. I think her version is much more believable. Artemisia was greatly affected by Caravaggio’s painting. She painted herself as Judith and her rapist Agostino Tassi as Holofernes.
  • 25. David with the Head of Goliath. c1605 or 1610 . David and Goliath Did Caravaggio offer his head for exchange of pardon?
  • 26. Portraits It was suggested that Caravaggio always used models for his portraits. In his early career, he used himself and friends to pose for him, like his girlfriend Fillide Melandroni (above). But it was the realism of his saints that distinguishes Caravaggio from other painters, in breaking with traditions.
  • 27. Conversion of Magdalene. 1598. Conversion of Magdalene
  • 28. Conversion of Magdalene (Detail). 1598. Conversion of Magdalene
  • 29. St Jerome. 1605-06. painted at the height of his career. Saint Jerome
  • 30. Portrait of Alof de Wignacourt. 1608. Malta Period
  • 31. The Supper at Emmaus The Supper at Emmaus. c1601. National Gallery, London
  • 32. Supper at Emmaus. 1601. Caravaggio. National Gallery. London. The Bible tells the story of two apostles meeting a stranger on their way to the village of Emmaus. They talked about Jesus’ Crucifixion and his body’s disappearance from his tomb. At dinner, the stranger blessed and broke the bread, prompting the apostles to recognize that the stranger was Jesus. He then vanished from their sight. On the left of the painting was probably Cleophas, one of the apostles. On the opposite was Peter, who wore a sea shell to show he was a pilgrim. The innkeeper was depicted standing beside Jesus. Why did the apostles not recognise Jesus? Supper at Emmaus 1601
  • 33. In the age of oil-lamps and flickering candles, the painting’s dark background can easily blend into its surroundings, creating an illusion of reality. Supper at Emmaus 1601
  • 34. Jesus was depicted as a young beardless man with a feminine look wearing a bright red gown, different from the traditional images of Christ. Perhaps it was the changed appearance of a resurrected Jesus that his apostles did not immediately recognise him? The Innkeeper, with a scarf on his head, was looking at Jesus, emotionless. Why did Caravaggio include him? Was he there to represent the non-believers? Or did he see Jesus as just another man? Peter (presumed) with foreshortening arms penetrating into the observer’s space. Cleophas, wearing a rag, with arms supporting himself. A solemn Jesus with an unimpressed innkeeper. The innkeeper’s shadow conveniently casting a halo above Jesus. The apostles were clothed like labourers and not in robes. Cleophas’ coat had a hole at the elbow, which protruded from the painting. He was shown pushing himself up at the moment Jesus revealed his true identity, by blessing the bread. Peter, with his crooked nose and untidy hair, threw his foreshortened arms in a gesture of utter astonishment, echoing the Crucifixion. His arm stuck out from the painting, his right hand looked ‘out of focus’ and slightly larger than his left. Supper at Emmaus – the people
  • 35. Caravaggio could only have copied the fruits in autumn, even though the Resurrection occurred around Easter. He was originally trained as a still-life painter and took the subject seriously, declaring that ‘it took as much skill to paint a good picture of flowers as of figures’. On the table there were bread, water and wine, a roasted chicken and a wicker basket full of over-ripe fruits, painted to the smallest detail – lesions, fungal spots and worm holes. The rotting fruits symbolized death, decay and the transient nature of life. Pomegranate was used as a metaphor for the crown of thorns and the apples & the figs represent man’s original sin. The wilting vine leaves and grapes related to red wine; the blood of Christ. What sort of light illuminates the painting? The most likely explanation is that the painting must been painted in a cellar with a small window with a strong beam of sunlight. The basket teetering on the edge of the table. Some say it creates tension. Others, suggest it creates an illusion effect of the basket falling out of the painting. I think, an apostles had shifted the table accidentally, in the confusion of recognising the resurrected Jesus Supper at Emmaus – the table
  • 36. Supper of Emmaus. 1601. Caravaggio. National Gallery. London.
  • 37. Supper of Emmaus. 1606. Oil. Caravaggio. Pinacoteca di Brera. Milan This work of the same event was painted by Caravaggio, whilst he was on the run, after he had committed murder. It was five to six years after the original and included an extra person, a maid. Far more subdued, with figures emerging into the light, a limited palette was used with no bright colours. His later paintings all shared this quality. This image of Christ was more traditional. The expressions of the subjects were more sober, their gestures restrained and less theatrical. The table is comparatively bare including bread, a bowl, a plate and a jug. The basket of fruits is gone. The subjects are older, their youthfulness disappeared. A transformation from a rich, colourful and dramatic depiction to a darker and more ‘mundane’ vision of the same event. Does this reflect the state of Caravaggio’s mind while on the run? Supper at Emmaus 1606
  • 38. Supper of Emmaus. 1606. Pinacoteca di Brera. Milan Supper at Emmaus 1606
  • 39. The man and his arts
  • 40. The Incredulity of St Thomas. 1601-02. Rome Period
  • 41. The Entombment. 1602-03. Rome Period An uncompromised realistic Virgin Mary, painted as an old woman. Have you ever seen an aging Madonna?
  • 42. The Death of the Virgin (Detail). 1605-06. Note the slightly swollen body of the corpse. Rome Period
  • 43. Madonna del Rosario. 1607. Post Rome Period
  • 44. The Martyrdom of St Ursula The Martyrdom of St Ursula, 1610. St Ursula refused to marry a pagan Hun, who fired an arrow at her, at point blank. This was Caravaggio’s last painting.
  • 45. Caravaggio, the man Michelangelo Merisi, commonly known as Caravaggio, was very influential in the history of painting. Born in Milan c1571, he served his art apprenticeship. He then moved to Rome in search of work between 1588-1590. His life was unruly, dramatic and violent. Constantly in trouble with the police for street brawls, he committed a murder in 1606 which forced him to be on the run, for the rest of his life. Caravaggio fled to Naples, then to Malta (1607) where he was knighted by the Order of St. John. After assaulting a justiciary, he was imprisoned. Subsequently he escaped to Sicily and went to Naples in 1609 where his enemies finally caught up with him. The following year he travelled by boat to Porto Ercole (nr. Rome), where he was arrested by mistake and released. He contracted a fever here and died on the 18 July 1610, age 38. The severed head of Goliath, painted in 1609-10, is probably a self-portrait. Shown offering his own head, like a hunted creature, wanted by the authorities and enemies alike.
  • 46. The Technique & Styles The single most important hallmark of Caravaggio’s painting styles is a dark, often shallow background, with the use of limited earth colours. Mostly illuminated by a single strong light source, diagonally, creating a stark contrast between brightness and blackness (chiaroscuro). He painted with a vivid and uncompromising sense of realism, exemplified by dirty feet, rotting fruits, shabby, ageing saints and the use of coarse peasant type in contemporary clothing. His paintings are overwhelmed with the truthfulness of seeing and all the subtleness of humanity; its highs and its lows. Caravaggio liked to shock, using provocative, dramatic and violent images - bold gestures, deliberate brutality, severed heads, streams of blood, probing wound. He challenged accepted conventions and in his painting, The Death of the Virgin, he used a prostitute (allegedly his girlfriend Lena) as model for the Madonna. The Death of the Virgin (Detail). 1606. Oil on canvas. Musee du Louvre, Paris. The painting was rejected by the church, as it was rumoured that Caravaggio’s model was ‘a dirty whore from the Ortaccio’. Many of his works offended religious sensibilities. Judith Beheading Holofernes (Detail) 1598-9. The Doubting Thomas (Detail). c1603. Potsdam. Caravaggio reacted against the falsehood of mannerism and created realism.
  • 47. Caravaggio establishes the notion of the rebellious artist, an anti-establishment figure commentating on society, challenging our preconceived ideas with a fiercely unique style, like the coarse peasant type apostle. With his passionate belief in the individual and his uncompromising realism. Caravaggio remains an extraordinary painter with an equally controversial life; violent by nature and a known killer. Artist as a Rebel Portrait of Caravaggio (Detail) by Ottavio Leoni. With his basket of rotten fruits, swollen corpse and aging Madonna, he had left us unique images as his testaments to his originality.
  • 48. Caravaggisti - His followers
  • 49. His Famous Followers It is almost impossible to overestimate the influence of Caravaggio. He was widely admired and an extremely influential painter of 17th century. Among his followers were Orazio Gentileschi (Italian), Artemisia Gentileschi (daughter), Velazquez (Spanish), Murillo (Spanish), La Tour (French), Rubens (Belgium) and Rembrandt (Dutch). La Tour – Card Players Rembrandt – Anatomy Lecture Valazquez – Egg Fryer Is a film like Pretty Baby, in which Brooke Shields plays a 12 year old prostitute directed by Louis Malle, part of the Caravaggio tradition?
  • 50. Music – Beethoven. Violin No in G Minor : II Adagio. All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners. Available free for non-commercial and personal use. The End 1571 - 1610 Caravaggio on the 100,000 lira bank note