Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane

Andrew Graham-Dixon

Language: English

Pages: 544

ISBN: 039334343X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“This book resees its subject with rare clarity and power as a painter for the 21st century.”―Hilary Spurling, New York Times Book Review

In a bravura performance, Andrew Graham-Dixon explores Caravaggio’s staggering artistic achievements, delving into the original Italian sources to create a masterful profile of the mercurial painter. This New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of the Year features more than eighty full-color reproductions of the artist’s best paintings. 40 pages of color illustrations; 4 maps

Fodor's Italy 2015

The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy (3rd edition)




















the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15:18–19). The bearded traveller sheltered by the stolid innkeeper is Christ the pilgrim. The young bravo with a plumed hat, who evokes bittersweet memories of the finely dressed ne’er-do-wells in Caravaggio’s first Roman pictures, is a representation of St Martin of Tours. He has drawn his sword to cut his cloak in half, as the medieval saint had done, to clothe a pauper, in the most frequently recounted episode of his life. The unclothed wretch at the saint’s feet

had shown the moment directly before Peter’s threefold denial. This soldier’s red shirtsleeve is indicated in a few summary strokes of red paint with swiftly dashed-in highlights. A wedge-shaped piece of light fragments and disperses in the darkness of his armour. His face and hands are a blur. Beside him, a single girl stands in for both maids challenging Peter. She stares intently at the soldier while pointing at Peter with a half-sketched hand. The most eloquent figure in the picture is Peter

and mocked and beaten … And then too you must shape in your mind some people, people well known to you, to represent for you the people involved in the Passion – the person of Jesus himself, the Virgin, Saint Peter, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Mary Magdalen, Anne, Caiaphas, Pilate, Judas and the others, every one of which you will fashion in your mind.32 The sacred mountain was designed to ease the process of devotional visualization. The worshipper must make the physical effort of

worldly, benevolent, diplomatic, curious, open-minded and socially adept man, with a rare sensitivity to genius in other people and a strong sense of Christian charity. But a considerably more negative picture of him was painted by his contemporary Dirck van Amayden, who composed the principal early biography of del Monte. Amayden’s text, which has had a definite influence on the cardinal’s posthumous reputation, is so hostile that it amounts to a thinly veiled character assassination. The

of drama and his use of extreme contrasts of light and dark would prove intoxicatingly influential. The painting of such seventeenth-century masters as Rembrandt in Holland, Georges de La Tour in France, Ribera in Spain, even the work of much later Romantic artists such as Géricault and Delacroix, all are inconceivable without the pictorial revolution first unleashed by Caravaggio in his two pictures of scenes from the life of St Matthew. It is no exaggeration to say that they decisively changed

Download sample