Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The Depravity of Caravaggio
One of the best painters from 17th Century Italy, Caravaggio live a hard and depraved life. He was wanted for murder, had to flee Rome, drank, enjoyed the brothels, and was hated by his contemporary artists for destroying the art of painting.
As a young man he was apprenticed to Simone Peterzano. His master was relatively unknown with his biggest claim to fame was the he studied under the great Titian and produced the great Caravaggio. I guess some of us are eternally students or teachers.
After his apprenticeship Caravaggio moved to Rome with only a few bucks from his parents estate to find his career. He was quickly absorbed into the pleasures the large city of Rome brought to his doorstep and drank, gambled, and enjoyed women. His work at first was simple and didn't pay well.
After he got his feet under him and found the right patrons he was able to begin creating work and was beginning to get paid very well.
Caravaggio's key to success, at least today, is that he used contemporary Romans in 17th century clothes to depict Biblical scenes. He painted as he saw things with all the dirt, blood, grime, and inner soul of his models brought to life. He strayed as far away from "true" religious painting as one could. For this his fellow 17th century artists despised him. They thought he was ruining the art of painting once and for all.
His artwork wasn't rediscovered for its greatness until 100 years ago or so. That isn't to write that some of his powerful patrons didn't see and understand his brilliance. Scipione Borghese collected many of his works and bought them from others that commissioned Caravaggio, but rejected the work upon completion.
Listen to the How to Tour Italy radio show on Thursday, January 22nd at 11:00 Central in the afternoon. I'll be talking about Caravaggio, his work, depravity, and where to enjoy his paintings throughout Italy, Europe, and the United States. Tune in to the show by clicking here. If you miss it you can listen to the recoreded episode of the show or as a podcast on iTunes.
In addition, the Do You Love Italy widget will be featuring art from Caravaggio from January 22-27 on the photo page. You can load it at the top of this page by clicking on the "get & share" tab at the bottom of the widget.