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Caravaggio Artist: Paintings of Musicians and the Metropolitan Museum

27.09.2021
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Caravaggio Artist

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian painter and the founder of the realistic trend in European painting of the 17th century. The idealization of images, characteristic of the art of mannerism and academism, Caravaggio opposed the individual expressiveness of the model (“The Little Sick Bacchus”, Borghese Gallery, Rome), the allegorical interpretation of the plot – direct observation of nature (“A Young Man with a Basket of Fruit”, ibid.). The work of Caravaggio had a great influence on the formation of realistic trends in many European art schools of the 17th century.

Caravaggio artist, one of the most influential figures in the history of art, turned the artistic conventions of the time and created stunningly dramatic paintings, both sacred and secular. This ambitious exhibition explores the profound influence of his work on a wide range of artists of Italian, French, Dutch, Flemish, and Spanish origin living in Rome. Grouped by subject matter, it features over 50 paintings that juxtapose compelling Caravaggio painting style with those he inspired. This is the second-largest exhibition of his paintings in North America, and only the third exhibition of Caravaggio to be held in the United States.

Caravaggio’s Art Style

Caravaggio’s Art Style

Many of Caravaggio’s early paintings depict handsome young people, both singly and in groups. It seems that he repeatedly used the same favorite models – and sometimes his own features, which, according to a contemporary, he studied in the mirror. The origins of these new paintings lie in the types of paintings – portraits, still lifes, and allegories – that were painted in a realistic style in the artist’s native Lombardy, in northern Italy, although he blurred the lines between genres to suggest real-life scenes.

Paintings of musicians by Caravaggio would have pleased Roman collectors who were passionate patrons of music and were probably created to decorate the rooms used for performances. They have a dreamy, slightly melancholy look. If the songs are about love, as we might guess, they are probably about the painful side of love, not about its joys.

Early Caravaggio sketches depicting young men are usually scenes of sensual pleasure, but with a built-in warning against indulgence, such as when a young man bites his finger on a lizard lurking in some kind of fruit. He brings us closer to his figures, often forcing them to look us in the eye, and includes lovingly observed still-life details that enhance the naturalism and immediacy of the scene.

Even when there is a visit from outside, like the winged Cupid in, and includes lovingly observable still-life details that enhance the naturalness and immediacy of the scene. Caravaggio’s musical paintings gained popularity throughout Europe thanks to the work of his followers, who introduced their own innovations into this genre.

Caravaggio the Musicians

Caravaggio the Musicians

At the time of writing this work the musician’s painting Michelangelo da Caravaggio was still young and, despite his daring disposition, led a fairly quiet life in the house of his patron, Cardinal Francesco Del Monte. The time for dramatic events in the fate of the artist and his passionate lives, the struggle between light and darkness of paintings, which would have a strong influence on the entire European painting, has not yet come. His paintings are still light and lyrical. They often play music, as in the presented work, in which blooming youth and sublime art merge in harmony.

The musician, sitting on the canvas with his back to the viewer, opened the score. An inscription is visible on it, which should more accurately explain what is happening. This is a common technique in the work of Caravaggio, but no one has yet been able to read what was written. The boy with the horn in the background is the earliest of the artist’s self-portraits, who would portray himself in his paintings more than once, and this is Caravaggio’s last self-portrait in which we see him serene.

The breath of the Renaissance can still be heard in “the musicians”. But in the dense and complex composition of the work, in the swirling fabrics of clothes and draperies, one can feel those tension and slight nervous tremors that distinguish baroque art.

Caravaggio Metropolitan Museum

Caravaggio Metropolitan Museum

The painting was created to decorate the study of one of the first patrons of the young Caravaggio, Cardinal Francesco del Monte. The musicians are preparing for a rehearsal. One of them pulls up the strings of the lute, the violinist peers attentively at the notes, the third with a horn is Caravaggio, this is a kind of self-portrait.

On the left, Cupid is depicted with arrows behind his back, busy with grapes. There are several titles for this painting: “Music”, “Musicians”, “Concert”, although a more appropriate title is “Rehearsal”. Simultaneously with The Musicians, Caravaggio also wrote The Young Man with the Lute. This picture comes in three flavors.

One of them is in the Hermitage.

Biography Caravaggio Painter

The great Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi Da Caravaggio was born on September 29, 1571, in Milan. In 1576, his father died of the plague, and his mother and children moved to Caravaggio, a town not far from Milan. Michelangelo lived here until 1591. The first genre scenes and portraits written in Milan have not survived.

Michelangelo had a quick-tempered character. Fights and imprisonment were a regular part of his life. In 1591, the artist was forced to flee from Milan to Venice and then to Rome.

Here Caravaggio (as he was called, as was customary among artists, by his place of birth) meets prominent artists and patrons of art, such as Jan Bruegel Velvet, and also studies the works of Leonardo, Giorgione, and Titian. The first of the surviving paintings of Caravaggio himself is “A Boy Peeling Fruit” (1593).

The heroes of Caravaggio are people from the street crowd, beautiful and cheerful.

  • In 1594-96, Caravaggio experienced a fruitful period, working for his patron the enlightened Cardinal Francesco del Monti in his villa (many paintings from that time have survived to this day).
  • Despite outstanding successes in 1596, Caravaggio was refused admission to the academy of St. Luke. In the same year, he created the first pure still life in the history of the Italian painting “Fruit Basket”.
  • In subsequent years, the artist received many orders for the decoration of churches, but not all customers were satisfied with the work performed.
  • In 1601, Caravaggio finally rented his own workshop, where he taught his students. His “Entombment” (1603) was copied by many artists (including the great Rubens).

The creation of masterpieces was interspersed with Caravaggio’s riotous life, fights, and conclusions. On May 26, 1606, Caravaggio was accused of murdering a man in a fight. Outlawed, the artist flees to Naples, then to Malta, and continues to paint.

Life Path

Biography Caravaggio Painter

First, Caravaggio went to Venice, then to Rome, then there was a prison again – and so, in the constant changes of circumstances, his place of residence, his whole life passed.

At the same time, he worked a lot, received orders from influential persons of that time, got acquainted under different circumstances with outstanding personalities of his time: in the workshop of d’Arpino, he met patrons and artists, in particular, Jan Brueghel the Elder; in Tor di Nona prison, where he ended up after another fight, he meets with Giordano Bruno; autumn 1594

He begins to work for the Cardinal Del Monte, moves to his villa Madama and meets here with the Italian physicist, mechanic, astronomer, philosopher, and mathematician, who had a significant influence on the science of his time – Galileo; the Italian philosopher and writer, one of the first representatives of utopian socialism – Campanella; Italian architect and sculptor Giacomo della Porta, poets Marino and Milesi. In 1606, a dispute on the ball court escalated into a fight, during which Ranuccio Tomassoni was killed. Caravaggio was charged with the murder. The artist was outlawed; now any person could kill him and even receive a reward for this – he was hiding again in the Colonna estate.
In 1610, during his next adventure travels and awaiting pardon from Pope Paul V, he died in Porto Ercole. On July 31, 1610, a papal decree pardoning Caravaggio was promulgated in Rome and a message about his death was published. So now you know who was Caravaggio.

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