The Art of talking about Art – 4: C for Caravaggio

This week in the Art of talking Art: Caravaggio, the town and the painter. The name Caravaggio comes up often, often in important places. Under no circumstances should this surprise you. Caravaggio is an all-time great, a hall of famer, and a certified biggie. Someone you would do well to know better.

This week in the Art of talking Art: Caravaggio, the town and the painter.

The name Caravaggio comes up often, often in important places. Under no circumstances should this surprise you. Caravaggio is an all-time great, a hall of famer, and a certified biggie. Someone you would do well to know better.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

(29th September 1571 – 18th July 1610) was an Italian Baroque painter with great influence both in Italy and abroad. He was born in Caravaggio (just outside Milan), Lombardy in Italy. He took his name from the village where he was born.

Self portrait of Caravaggio

Introducing Baroque

At this point it helps to know what Baroque is. Baroque relates to or denoting a style of European architecture, music, and art of the 17th and 18th centuries that followed Mannerism and is characterized by ornate detail. In architecture the period is exemplified by the palace of Versailles and by the work of Wren in England. Major composers include Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel; Caravaggio and Rubens are important baroque artists.

Careàs or Caravaggio?

Caravaggio, the town, is also known locally as Careàs. In its present form it is a commune in the province of Bergamo, in Lombardy, Italy, 40 kilometres east of Milan. The Sanctuary of Caravaggio is its most famous sight.

Caravaggio in a nutshell

Caravaggio painted Roman gods and Christian saints as if emerging out of darkness. Most of his religious paintings emphasize sadness, suffering and death.

A well-known Caravaggio

Death of the Virgin by Caravaggio

The Death of the Virgin Mary is a common subject in Western Christian art. Nothing is said in the Bible about the end of Mary’s life, but a tradition dating back to at least the 5th century says the twelve Apostles were miraculously assembled from their far-flung missionary activity to be present at the death, and that is the scene normally depicted, with the apostles gathered round the bed. A prominent, and late, example of the subject is Death of the Virgin by Caravaggio (1606), the last major Catholic depiction.

3-D and Caravaggio

Caravaggio is particularly renowned for his use of chiaroscuro, a technique that uses light and dark to achieve a 3-D effect. He is also known for his bold, realistic style and the dramatic expression of his striking compositions.

David with the head of Golliath by Caravaggio

Caravaggio had an extraordinary influence in his time, as he turned European art from the ideal viewpoint of the Renaissance to focus on the idea that simple reality was of primary importance. He chose common people as his subjects and painted them in ordinary surroundings with extraordinary results.

Following Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s realism and chiaroscuro technique made a lasting impression on generations of artists, including Rubens, Rembrandt, Diego Velázquez, and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. All big names we will introduce you to in the weeks to follow.

And if you enjoyed this little educational trip into the history of Art, you might enjoy this part of our store that’s dedicated to art lovers.

Previous Editions:

Update: We have compiled the entire series of blog posts on The Art of Talking About Art in one place. To read other editions of the series, click here.

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.

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