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Caravaggio, between shadows and light

- 04/05/2021


Overwhelmed by a leak of water in April 2014, the owners of a house located in the suburbs of Toulouse did not imagine making such a discovery by opening a sub-slope of their roof.

Resting quietly in their attic, a canvas was quickly said to be painted by the hand of Caravaggio and estimated at more than 120 million Euros.

Although never officially authenticated as a work by Caravaggio, numerous analyzes were carried out by expert committees - the last one was in February 2017- the canvas is still a great deal more than four centuries after the disappearance of the painter.
Like a wink to an artist who has always known how to talk about himself.

From his revolutionary paintings to his stays in prison, from his peculiar technique to his numerous fights, Le Caravage has never left anyone indifferent from the sixteenth century to the present day.

(In front of the oil on canvas of 144 x 173,5 cm, the experts of the Turquin cabinet)



Michelangelo Merisi, was born in September 1571.

Caravaggio was named after his native city, a small village in Lombardy near Bergamo, although History is still unaware whether he was born in Milan or Caravaggio.

One thing is certain: he spent a good part of his childhood in the alleys of the latter city, where his father officiated as foreman, mason, architect, and steward of the Marquis de Caravaggio.

Despite his birth in a modest family, Michelangelo literally discovered misery when the plague carried away his grandfather, his father and one of his little brothers.

Widow and in charge of four children, her mother, Lucia Aratori passed away few years later.
Michelangelo was just starting his thirteenth year.
caravaggio boy with a fruit basket les musiciens
During 4 years, when he was a familiar of Simone Peterzano's workshop, the young Merisi learned the Venetian style, the Lombard school with its expressive light and its true details, drawing, oil painting, frescoes and, above all, portraits and still life.

In 1592, he went to the capital of the world and of Art: Rome.

He had a hard and difficult life in the city to the Seven Hills, working for painters like Giuseppe Cesari, known as Le Cavalier d'Arpin, the official painter of the Pope.

His early works were mostly enigmatic portraits.

He also painted scenes like Boy with a fruit basket (1593) or Les Musiciens (1595).

He was noticed by Cardinal Francesco Maria Borbone del Monte, who bought Les Tricheurs (1595).

The Caravaggio, thanks to this encounter, made his entry into a new dimension.



The Caravaggio, which is now a protected artist, is housed in the Palais Madame, the current building of the Senate, property of the Cardinal del Monte and, after honoring numerous paintings for private collectors, he obtains prestigious commissions Religious paintings thanks to his new relations.

However, many of them are regularly denied for their excess of realism which is considered blasphemous by its ecclesiastical sponsors.

His singular approach, it is true, upsets all the codes of the time.

If it arouses admiration on the one hand, on the other it attracts the wrath of the purists who vehemently criticize its lack of formal learning and the absence of sketches of preparation because it draws directly on the canvas and then painted.

The choice of his subjects is also controversial.

Indeed, far from the idealized representations of the biblical characters, he chose human models and especially popular, marginals, prostitutes, beggars, street kids...

His painting contrasts with Mannerism and his greatest innovation is then in the use of light and shade.



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