Caravaggio Painting in Rome

"Caravaggio Painting in Rome" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011

Caravaggio Painting in Rome, Italy

Roma is the custodian of numerous valuable works by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, they can be found in palaces, the houses of noble families, churches, galleries and museums. The itinery for discovering the masterpieces of the great artist winds between Piazza Venezia, Piazza del Popolo, and the area near to the green expanse of Villa Borghese and the Vatican City.

The Borghese gallery (Piazzale Scipione Borghese, possesses no less than six of the master's works, this is the world's greatest collection: they are "Giovane con la canestra di frutta", "Bacchino malato", "San Girolamo", "Madonna dei Palafrenieri", "Davide con la testa di Golia" and finally "San Giovannino". "San Francesco in meditazione" in the church of the Cappuccini Convento on Via Veneto is also attributed to Caravaggio, while the mythical "Narciso" and the "Decapitazione di Oloferne" are in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini. Just a short walk from Piazza Venezia in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj on Piazza del Collegio Romano visitors can see the splendid "Riposo dalla fuga in Egitto", "Maddalena" and "San Giovanni Battista".

Other masterpieces by the great Lombard artist can be found in the Corsini Galleria on Via della Lungara ("San Giovanni Battista nel Deserto"), in the Vatican Museum ("Deposizione di Cristo"), in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Piazza del Popolo ("Converzione di San Paolo" and the "Crocefissione di San Pietro"); in Sant'Agostino on Via della Scrofa ("Madonna dei Pellegrini"). Finally in San Luigi dei Francesi on the piazza of the same name there is a series of paintings which tell the story of Saint Matthew in the Cappella Contarelli of the church, they are: "Vocazione", "Il Martirio", and "San Matteo e l'Angelo". In the Casino Ludovisi, the last remains of the Villa Ludovisi on Via Lombardia, Caravaggio created frescos in oil on the walls of the alchemy laboratory, painting "Giove, Nettuno and Plutone" in triumph around the sun.

2010 marks the 400th anniversary of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's death. He was 39 when he died and had spent half of his life painting professionally. While Caravaggio's passing came as no huge surprise to his contemporaries, the rest of us have been trying to flesh out his chronology ever since. See, when he painted, he painted in bursts and, usually, out of necessity. There seem to have been long intervals in between painting bursts when life, flight and threats of imprisonment and/or execution took over. Given the circumstances and doing the math, quite a few too many Caravaggio canvases have surfaced over the centuries to be credible.

This period, between 1592, when Caravaggio arrived in Rome, to the end of Gregory XV Ludovisi's pontificate in 1623 was one of the greatest artistic period's of all time. Many great artists converged on Rome in that period, Italian artists included Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, and Guido Reni; as well as non-Italians such as Rubens, Bril and Elsheimer. The exhibition is born from the collaboration between the Royal Academy of Arts and the Soprintendenza per i beni artistici e Storici di Roma, and has been organised under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II and the President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi; it also has the support of Regione Lazio and the Comune di Roma.

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