My Love-Hate Relationship With

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian painter who lived from 1571 to 1610.

He was famous for his realistic style, his use of light and his remarkable narrative power.

"There was art before him and art after him, and they were not the same."


He was also (in)famous for his private life: • a hero of bar fights • accused of having a male lover • killed a man in a dispute over a woman

"Arrogant, rebellious and a murderer, Caravaggio's short and tempestuous life matched the drama of his works."

National Gallery: Caravaggio

"...after a fortnight's work he will swagger about for a month or two with a sword at his side and a servant following him, from one ball-court to the next, ever ready to engage in a fight or an argument, so that it is most awkward to get along with him." Floris Claes van Dijk, 1601

I ❤️ him for

The Taking of Christ

St Matthew and the Angel (Painting destroyed in World War II)

Supper at Emmaus

St John the Baptist in the Wilderness

The Calling of St Matthew

But I hate:

Boy Bitten by a Lizard

Boy with a Basket of Fruit

"All works, no matter what or by whom painted, are nothing but bagatelles and childish trifles... unless they are made and painted from life, and there can be nothing... better than to follow nature." CARAVAGGIO

Caravaggio caused a scandal with his painting of St Matthew for the altar of a church in Rome:

Caravaggio, who was a highly imaginative, uncompromising young artist, thought hard about what it must have been like when an elderly, poor, working man, a simple publican, suddenly has to sit down to write a book.

And so he painted a picture of St Matthew with a bald head and bare, dusty feet, awkwardly gripping the huge volume, anxiously wrinkling his brow under the unaccustomed strain of writing.

By his side he painted a youthful angel, who seems just to have arrived from on high, and who gently guides the labourer's hand as a teacher may do to a child:

When Caravaggio delivered his picture to the church where it was to be placed on the altar, people were scandalised at what they took to be a lack of respect for the saint. The painting was not accepted, and Caravaggio had to try again.:

Is it possible to make a better case for artistic freedom than merely juxtaposing these two paintings?

CREDITS All pictures are public domain via Wikipedia. 🔻 The story of the painting of the two versions of St Matthew (pages 24-26 & 28) as told by E. H. Gombrich in his book The Story of Art. 🔻 Inspired by Beyond Caravaggio, a current exhibition in the National Gallery, London.

By Waterblogged: Dry Thoughts on Damp Books #caravaggio #art #paintings #paintings #stellerart