Works of Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio)
He was the son of Fermo Merisi and Lucia Aratori, and was born in Milan and lived in Caravaggio part of his childhood and youth, from here he adopted the immortal pseudonym with which he would stamp the history of his controversial and ingenious artistic life, he is known as a master of chiaroscuro, not only in his painting but by the contrasts of his sullen life.
His first apprenticeships were in 1584 as a classmate of Simone Peterzano. He travelled to Rome in 1592 and worked in the workshops of Giuseppe Cesari, where he painted his first works. Later, he achieved autonomy after meeting decisive figures in his artistic career, making a name for himself in the arts, as well as in the world of Roman street fights, he is credited with the crime of Ranuccio Tomassoni.
In his compositions he used corpses, vagabonds and prostitutes to represent works of great solemnity, detached himself from the pictorial ideals of the time and introduced a more realistic art attached to the truth with a strong vehemence to the efectist contrasts produced by his regal technique.
Although he died in 1610, it is in 2018 that it was determined that he was attacked by an infection caused by a golden staphylococcus, the product of a wound caused by a fight.
10 most famous works of Caravaggio
1. The Calling of St. Matthew-1601- Church of St. Louis of the French, Rome
The monumental artwork hangs in the Contarelli chapel, along with two others by the artist. The reason for these was to represent themes based on the life of the saint to decorate the chapel that Cardinal Matteo Contarelli ordered to decorate in his name, in this case, the painting is based on the narration of the biblical passage in which Jesus tells Matthew to follow him and he rises and does it. The impressive chiaroscuro effect sombrely impregnates the faces of the planes of the composition and its characters immersed in an intimate context more human, contemporary and ladino.
2. Bacchus-1598 – Uffizi Gallery of Florence, Italy
The eponym work is the apologetic representation of the god of wine according to Caravaggio, it has come to be considered a self-portrait of the artist. Nevertheless, it is one of his first creations and in it he makes clear his early mastery of the theme of the flow of light, manifested in the clothes and the human figure of the apparently drunken adolescent god given the change in skin tones of the face and hands, as well as in his languid eyes or in the waves reflected in the wine from the glass he holds in his hand and gives to the omnipresent spectator.
3. The beheading of St. John the Baptist-1608-Concathedral of St. John of Valletta, Malta
Considered the only work that the artist autographed, the signature can be seen in the blood coming out of the saint’s neck. The pictorial achievements of the work are impressive so it is one of the best works of the painter and perhaps Western culture, was built to decorate the Cathedral of St. John in Malta as an allegory of the time of the beheading of St. John the Baptist, the work has colossal magnitudes because the figures are almost life size, and this is added to the controversial effects of his figures won with his powerful technique.
4. Judith Beheading Holofernes-1599- National Gallery of Ancient Art, Rome, Italy
In Judit and Holofernes the artist recreates the biblical passage in which the general is decapitated by his fatal femme and achieves a portentous scene with a robust shadow in the background from which a dense red curtain is released, which, in turn, looks like the shroud of Holofernes’ twisted body. The light tends to be as dismissive as it is masterful in accentuating the characters’ clothes and facial expressions, which turn out to be so vivid and realistic, not only because of the strong emotional effects they recreate but also because of those they produce in the spectators.
5. Basket of Fruit-1596- Pinacoteca Ambrosiana of Milan, Italy
Caravaggio was 25 years old when he made this impressive still life, a genre that he managed to elevate from the extensions in which he was conceived at the time. The superb still life astonishes by its magnificence in the details of the basket, in the marks of fungi and insects that present the summer fruits, as well as in the stems, buds and leaves of the plants included in the composition, it seems that the central theme was the imperfection and the expiration mediated by a brutal illusionism that uses a shrewd trompe l’oeil with which the sensation of overflowing and instability is created.
6. Deposizione-1602-1604- Vatican City Picture Gallery
The Deposition of the Cross symbolises another of the highest pieces of Caravaggio’s pictorial work, also known as the Preparation of the Dead Christ on the Anointing Stone, and with it the artist, with his characteristic mastery over penumbra and light, captures the mortal duel of those close to Christ and that of his impassive body devoid of life in the midst of an overwhelming darkness, the painting breaks with the traditional lines with which the scene was being depicted and presents turbidly human characters with strong tension in their arms and hands, with strong tension in their arms and hands.
7. David with the head of Goliath-1609-1610- Borghese Gallery, Rome
For some, the work is a double self-portrait that the artist would make in the stages close to his death, so the dark tone of the work goes beyond what the color gives it. As in his best works, the penumbra in the background prepares the perfect atmosphere to reflect the emotions of the figures. A futile David contemplates abstracted the great head of his opponent, and no longer so threatening, Goliath’s face is repugnant to the boy who, more than an epopoeic hero, is drawn as a street map anyone who for the first time commits a murder.
8. Medusa-1597 – Uffizi Gallery of Florence, Italy
The terrifying image turns out to be a magnificent piece with which the artist generates an optical illusion that gives the sensation of the head flying towards its spectator, which demonstrates his ingenuity with the work of the concave and convex in the middle of the play of lights and shadows. Painted on canvas and then glued to a ceremonial shield, the freshly cut head of the mythological jellyfish reflects a horror added to the bewilderment of defeat, while its peculiar snake hair is vividly shaken as chilling jets of blood sprout from the base of the head.
9. Death of the Virgin-1606- Louvre Museum, France
For critics it is the most important religious piece of the Italian seiscento, even though, in its time, it raised a controversy over the methods used by the artist to recreate the scene. Nevertheless, the Death of the Virgin has all the elements to consider it one of the most important works of the artist. Again, the penumbra of the background is used this time to make shine an iridescent halo of light of absolute solemnity in a colossal composition with figures of almost natural size, the same ones, wrapped in deeply human emotions, interact sadly in a scene as funereal as humble.
10. The Taking of Christ-1602- National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
A controversial work because of its controversial disappearance and the number of copies that wandered while it was missing. In this work, the artist tries to tension the hands and faces of affected characters with tenacious emotions that capture the spectator’s attention, such an achievement is the product of the ingenuity with which the color, luminosity and overwhelming shadow that surrounds the figures of the apostles, soldiers and Jesus in the emblematic biblical scene in which Judas delivers it. The little light ennobles the folds of the clothes and the magisterial brightness that is reflected in the armor.