Saturday, March 9, 2013

Overview of Caravaggio's Christian Art

Sometime in the early 13th century, between 1227 and 1234 [1], a liturgical drama was composed now known as "The Play of Daniel" (Ludus Danielis). Out of several versions only one survived complete with musical notation and that is the version from Beauvais.  The play dates back to ~1140 [2]. What you are listening to now is only a small part of it but the part which in my opinion clearly stands out from the rest because of its unforeseen power. How much of the original composition was altered, maybe none, maybe a lot, I don't know, but this does not alter the experience of hearing it.



I doubt Caravaggio would of had the chance to listen to this song, but who can know such things. Born as Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio in 1571 studied in Naples under Simone Peterzano, he remainde in the history of art a very intriguing character and an exceptional painter who had a formative influence on Baroque painting. His biography is quite entertaining in the sense that he was a veritable rock star of his time, if I could say so and apparently I can.  Among the highlights of his eccentric behavior I can remember that he used a well known prostitute as his model for St Mary and that he killed a man. He died in 1610. He didn't have many years of painting but what he eventually painted is truly art at its highest. I don't know what his painting habits were but I don't think he was following the method used by Byzantine painters while working on their icons, immersed in prayer. This being said it is safe to assume that many of his religious works are not entirely religios, meaning that they also have roots in his personal life, in fact there are studies done on this which I am sure you can find on the web.

1600 - The Calling of Saint Matthew - 322x340 - Contarelli Chapel
1600 - The Martyrdom of St Matthew - 323x343 - Contarelli Chapel
1601 - Supper at Emmaus - National Gallery London
1602 - St John the Baptist (Youth with Ram) - 129x94 - Pinacoteca Capitolina Rome
1602 - Taking of Christ - 134x170 - National Gallery of Ireland Dublin
1602 - The Incredulity of Saint Thomas - Schloss Sanssouci Potsdam
1602 - The Sacrifice of Isaac - Galleria degli Uffizi Florence
1606 - St Francis in Meditation - 128x97 - Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica Rome
1607 - David with the Head of Goliath - 91x116 - Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
1608 - Beheading of Saint John the Baptist - 361x520 - La Valletta
1609 - Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence - 268x197
1609 - The Raising of Lazarus - 380x275 - Museo Regionale Messina
1609 - The Annunciation - Musee des Beaus-Arts Nancy
1610 - David with the Head of Goliath - 125x101 - Galleria Borghese Rome


[1] according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music
[2] according to wikipedia

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