M : The Man Who Became Caravaggio

M : The Man Who Became Caravaggio

Peter Robb

Language: English

Pages: 592

ISBN: 0312274742

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

As vividly and unflinchingly presented herein with "blood and bone and sinew" (Times Literary Supplement) by Peter Robb, Caravaggio's wild and tempestuous life was a provocation to a culture in a state of siege. The end of the sixteenth century was marked by the Inquisition and Counter-Reformation, a background of ideological war against which, despite all odds, brilliant feats of art and science were achieved. No artist captured the dark, violent spirit of the time better than Caravaggio, variously known as Marisi, Moriggia, Merigi, and sometimes, simply M. As art critic Robert Hughes has said, "There was art before him and art after him, and they were not the same." Robb's masterful biography "re-creates the mirror Cravaggio held up to nature," as Hilary Spurling wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "with singular delicacy as well as passion and panache."

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in detail – the whole nude is painted with the strength of the most exact imitation. By the summer of 1603, however, M was facing much more urgent trouble than a discreet thumbs down from an influential prelate. He was about to be arrested for criminal libel of one of the church’s favourite younger painters. Things were starting to come apart. 9 ROME 1603 Christ’s burial CHRIST’S BURIAL WAS a deeply moving picture for all the wrong reasons. Not that any of its admirers seemed to notice,

sanction to the whole exercise. The whiff of heresy that clung to Baglione’s image of the devil wasn’t merely wanton. Baglione never could’ve got away with suggesting something that didn’t evoke a suspicion already lurking in ecclesiastical minds. Onorio Longhi’s rage at Salini for being a snitch and a spy also implied that Salini had been tattling behind the scenes about dangerous matters – religious, political or sexual – that never came out in the trial. Some things were unmentionable in a

ways a poor and rather demure thing. Rome was an elegant but unproductive show city. Naples had all the attributes of manifold economic life, production and consumption from hardscrabble desperation to unparalleled idle opulence. And it had the appurtenances of real power. Militarily, for instance. Naples garrisoned the massive forces that maintained Spanish power in the central Mediterranean, a riotous and parasitic soldiery that lived promiscuously off the Neapolitan populace. The city

that you needed to get close to see. Gesture revealed more than facial individuality and the movements were all the sober economical acts of doing. What counted was the act, and each was a part of a private, shameful business. You weren’t invited to look. Like the appalled and fascinated silent prisoners behind the grate, you had to perve. Bellori was so fascinated by what he heard about this canvas that he too, like Sandrart, made the strenuous sea journey south from Rome to Malta just to see

well beyond the norm. He had an alert and curious mind for the varieties of people’s behaviour and a practical man’s relish for materials, tools and processes. He’d brought together in his house a group of knights and professional men that had no like anywhere in Europe. When he was made a marchese he designed his feudal palazzo and laid out its grounds himself – his essay on architecture was based on that experience. When he wrote about painting he remarked that he knew more about the practice

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