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

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marriage of the Sonne of God with our humane Nature was celebrated in the B. Virgin’s womb, the most high and mysterious worke, that the holy Trinity maker of all things, did ever accomplish; for therein God was made man; the Creator, a creature; the supreme cause, an effect; the Word, flesh; the spirit did take a body; the first is become last, and Alpha, Omega …82 By Caravaggio’s time there were two basic conventions for depicting the shrine of Loreto. The Madonna and child might be shown

buildings was remodelled, a new centrally planned Baroque church was created with the specific aim of giving Caravaggio’s altarpiece yet more prominence, space and light – a rare instance of an entire building being constructed around a single picture. The Seven Acts guaranteed further commissions and more work for Caravaggio. Sometime in the early months of 1607 he agreed to paint another altarpiece, on the subject of Christ’s flagellation, for a chapel within the courtyard of a Dominican

pictures themselves, and there were not very many of those because he had died so young. Under the circumstances, the vast impact of his work is all the more remarkable. For more than a century and a half after his death, the classicizing critics of Europe’s academic art tradition made a concerted and resolute attempt to blacken his name. According to their beliefs, much influenced by the strains of Neoplatonist philosophy, it was art’s duty to present an idealized version of reality, and not –

The handling of the drapery is more assured in the London picture, which also points to a slightly later date. Yet the very existence of this second, slightly more sophisticated variation indicates that Caravaggio had scored enough of a success with his original version to create a market for replicas. Once again, Caravaggio paints a single figure in an interior lit by raking light. But this time he animates the figure, having him actively recoil in pain and, as Baglione says, utter an almost

compendium of the conventions of the courtly love tradition, shot through with plaintive simile and metaphor – beauty that blinds like the sun, ardent fires of passion, cold unyielding marble of a proud woman’s heart. ‘Chi potra dir’ is representative: Who can express what sweetness I taste In gazing on that proud light of my lady That shames the celestial sphere? Not I, who am unable to find within myself The proper words, So that, looking on her beautiful face and mien, So as not to see

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