Monday, February 8, 2016


Room XX - Caravaggio

Volta: “Apollo's Chariot” about 1585/87 by Baldassare Croce (about 1553/1628) for Paolo I Sforza
“Judith and Holofernes is the beginning of a long series of violent themes treated by the painter Caravaggio in which he would explore the dominant thoughts, the meaning of life and the tragic conflict between persecutors and victims. With the central assumption another theme is interwoven, the opposition between the beautiful, victorious Judith and the horrible assistant alluding to the contrast between youth and old age” (Mina Gregori)
“He adhered perfectly, except for the presence of the assistant, to the story of the book of Judith from the Old Testament accepted by Orthodox and Roman Catholics but not by Jews and Protestants who rate it as an apocryphal texts. Another reason, this, to think that the choice of the subject also has a powerful anti-Lutheran meaning. He chooses as always to represent the climax of the action: the most terrible and tragic moment of the beheading of Holofernes here hanging between life and death in a scene where the use of light is the protagonist, lighting with skillful chiaroscuro quite a surreal scene” (Rossella Vodret)
“Narcissus” about 1598 and “St. Francis in Meditation” about 1605 three masterpieces of outstanding beauty by Michelangelo Merisi aka Caravaggio (1571/1610)
In the sacristy of S. Maria della Concezione (St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception) there is a copy of S. Francis in Meditation maybe painted by Bartolomeo Manfredi, from the original of Carpineto Romano found in 1968 and now here at Palazzo Barberini
Some scholars even claim that neither is the original by Caravaggio
“With the exception of Michelangelo, no other Italian painter exercised so great an influence on later painters” (Bernard Berenson)
“Sacred Love and Profane Love” about 1602 by Giovanni Baglione (1566/1643)
The face of the demon at the bottom is the portrait of Caravaggio hated by Baglione who denounced him for libel in 1603 together with Onorio Longhi with whom Caravaggio had written a series of scurrilous poems
Caravaggio was sentenced to nearly a month in jail and then, through the intercession of the French ambassador, he was released. He still had to undergo house arrest. Eventually the trial was eventually covered up without further criminal consequences
Baglione was deeply influenced by the stratospheric genius of Caravaggio even though he hated him and he was one of his biographer in his book about the lives of artists contemporary to him
“St. Francis and the Angel” about 1612/13 by Orazio Lomi aka Orazio Gentileschi (1563/1639)
“Unlike others, Gentileschi was not subjugated by the strong personality of Caravaggio, but he selected the stimuli accurately showing preference for the clear and transparent light of the first works of the master, and, as demonstrated by this St. Francis, assembling immediately, without hesitation, a resounding summary with what was his basic cultural component: the reformed paintings by Santi di Tito and Andrea Commodi, combined with a particular sensitivity inherent in Tuscan colors, but sharpened by his long experience in the papal construction sites” (Rossella Vodret)
“Bacchus and a Drinker” about 1610 by Bartolomeo Manfredi (1587/about 1620)
“Among the first members of the so called Caravaggio's 'school', rather than an interpreter he was an imitator, who drew the patterns of composition and lighting by Roman works of the master, so much so that many of his works were considered by the hand of Caravaggio himself” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“St. Gregory the Great” by Jusepe de Ribera aka Spagnoletto (1591/1652) to whom it was recently attributed based on documentary evidence

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