The Diary Game 08/11/2021 - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The Mysteries Hidden in His Masterpieces II.

in hive-184714 •  3 months ago 



Who exactly is Caravaggio? The revolting painter of ugliness, lowering the great subjects into the mud of sordid environments, depicting in the sacred face of the Virgin a prostitute, the evil boy, the scandalous, who always walked armed with the sword, assassin, fugitive, notorious homosexual or genius artist from the damned gallery a man who carries with him an inexplicable curse, a tragic destiny finally covered by mystery? The inventor of the chiaroscuro and the first to abuse this process, becoming his own mannerist, an individual with a taste of gloomy realism, as if out of the darkness of the cave, an adventurer waving his stained cloak between two stylistically ambiguous centuries?alein



Despite the general tone in which this face is painted, there is a striking resemblance to the figure in Bacchus, the Young Man with a Fruit Basket or the Boy Bite by a Gusher and even from the sinister Head of the Medusa (1596) at the Uffizi. Here begins the great ambiguity and, beyond it, the speculations about Caravaggio's homosexuality, his disturbing and scandalous eroticism. It is said that in the house of the painter Lorenzo Siciliano he met a 15-year-old man, Mario, who had fled his native Sicily, after committing a passionate crime.

He would quickly fall in love with him and use him as a role model, arousing jealousy whenever she wanted to catch him in dramatic attitudes. What is certain is that this face followed Caravaggio for a long time, that we can glimpse him over the years in The Victorious Love (1598-1599), a painting in Berlin. But striking is the resemblance to the figure in the self-portrait of Little Sick Bacchus. Mystery, like many others in the troubled existence of the rebel Caravaggio.

Caravaggio was 22 years old when he first appeared in court. He was accused of being part of the Portuguese Sect, a secret society whose members were accused of heresy and sodomy. Only a vague relationship could be demonstrated with an individual suspected of being a member of that secret society, in the entourage of the young painter, who chose only with one sign, a thistle made of red iron on the skin. Suspicions and accusations continued.

Michelangelo Merisi led a life that was not at all to the liking of the Christian authorities in Rome. The frequency of pubs, notorious environments and more, brought in his painting, including the one with religious subjects, figures he met on the street, dubious characters or took interpretable liberties, as in Singer on lute (1594 or 1595), canvas located at the Hermitages.




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The possible eroticism inspired by the painting, this musical pleasure proved by the painter in the early years were also related to the suspicion of homosexuality and the fact that the young man portrayed here has an open shirt, showing his bare chest, plus the somewhat lascivious look became as many arguments. It is quite clear that the model is the same Mario, probably Caravaggio's lover, a face he carries with him in so many paintings.

Cardinal Del Monte, who was a kind of patron of the young painter, would have claimed neither more nor less, that this face actually suggests the figure of Jesus accepting the sacrifice, offering his bare chest. But Caravaggio will prove a real preference for the male nude by painting religious themes. And perhaps this was not necessarily a reason for accusation, but the sensuality of the treatment, as in St. John the Baptist.

The first, from 1598 (Museo Tesoro Catedralicio in Toledo), also called John in the desert, is debatable as paternity. It is signed by a disciple of Caravaggio, Bartolomeo Cavarozzi, hence the doubts. It is not excluded that the painting was still painted by the master, as some researchers claim, although the chromatics seem significantly different.

However, the resemblance of the face to those in Caravaggio's previous paintings remains striking, which will be fully observed in the two variants of St. John the Baptist (Young Man with a Ram) from 1602, both in Rome.

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There is no doubt about it here and the treatment of the biblical figure was, of course, scandalous at the time. It is difficult to accept, regarding this painting with two almost identical variants, the notion of religious feeling, as it is difficult to accept it regarding other paintings, famous, of the painter. Rather, the same jubilee is glimpsed in the chiaroscuro of Victorious Love, for St. John the Baptist is rather a conventional Cupid in relation to the biblical subject. However, the body of the young man on the same red curtain remains, which we see in so many other paintings with a religious theme.

Cardinal Del Monte would have advised Caravaggio to approach biblical subjects and to marry, precisely to prevent scandalous rumors and to come to light, in a way, abandoning the troubled life he was leading in Rome, in quarrels. and beat in the sordid pubs he frequented. How long this advice has been followed is hard to say, especially since the events of these years prove exactly the opposite.

After 1597, Caravaggio painted his large paintings with religious themes. Thanks to Cardinal Del Monte, he received orders for paintings in the churches of San Luigi dei Francesi (Contarelli Chapel) and Santa Maria del Popolo (Cerasi Chapel) in Rome. These are the five great scenes that amaze with the originality of the composition and that constitute a true triumph of the chiaroscuro technique.

The first three, dedicated to St. Matthew (Martyrdom of St. Matthew, 1599–1600, Conversion of St. Matthew, 1599–1600, and St. Matthew and the Angel, 1602, San Luigi dei Francesi); the others, the Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul (both 1600–1601, Santa Maria del Popolo), large canvases, real revolutions in the treatment of themes.


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The conversion of St. Matthew seems to be an ordinary pub scene, with gambling on money. In St. Matthew and the Angel, the angel is the same obsessive Cupid and the saint is caught moving, in that twisted position so dear to the painter. The angel is not missing from Martyrdom either, one of Caravaggio's most studied compositions regarding the movement of the characters and the composition of the groups, with the same naked body of a man in the center of the canvas.

The crucifixion of St. Peter has an explosive drama, the only one perhaps closer to the tension and importance of the moment, in an extraordinary composition through the dynamics and the expression of the main character's face. In the other painting in the Cerasi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo, the biblical subject is treated in a bizarre manner.

The conversion does not take place on the road to Damascus, but simply into a dark stable, the center of the picture being the huge horse under which St. Paul collapsed, in a military suit. A stallion from the shadows is the only witness to a scene, after all, terrible. Such liberties, which intrigued the ecclesiastical authorities, however, give the measure of the originality of this nonconformist spirit, no doubt a genius painter.



Info Source:

Caravaggio segreto. I misteri nascosti nei suoi capolavori di Costantino D'Orazio

Image Sources:

Caravaggio: Until the cry of Medusa. Museum discoveries: Medusa

Amor vincit omnia Caravaggio

The Lute Player

Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio - Saint John the Baptist

St John the Baptist (Youth with Ram) by CARAVAGGIO

Chapel Contarelli - St. Matthew / Caravaggio - Church San Luigi dei Francesi

Caravaggio, Cerasi Chapel Paintings, Rome




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Genio e sregolatezza! In assoluto il mio pittore preferito!
Vivendo a Roma ho la fortuna e il privilegio di poter ammirare le sue opere frequentemente, e mi perdo in contemplazione ogni volta! Bellissimo post!

Beato :)
grazie!

Il migliore...forse più o meno di Michelangelo...

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Hi @alein,
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