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Painter - Caravaggio
A portrait of Caravaggio created several years after his death by his contemporary Ottavio Leoni.

Painter - Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born in 1571. At the age of 6 he was orphaned by an outbreak of bubonic plague, and at the age of 11 he moved to Milan. There he trained as a painter under Simone Peterzano, who had himself trained under Titian. Then, at 16, he moved to Rome to make his living where there was great demand for religious paintings.

When Caravaggio was in his early 20s his work was noticed by Cardinal Francesco del Monte, who gave the artist a room, board and a pension. Then, in 1597, he was commissioned to decorate a part of the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. He was tasked with painting three large paintings, each showing a different scene from the life of Saint Matthew. The realistic style of the resultant paintings upset some viewers, and one of the works, Saint Matthew and the Angel, had to be redone in a more reverential fashion.

Although he lived in the 16th-17th centuries, Caravaggio would not have been out of place amongst some of the 20th century artists. He was a violent man and prone to drinking and gambling, which led to him being imprisoned many times. He even killed a man in 1606, for which a death warrant was issued by the Pope. Because of this the last four years of Caravaggio's life were spent on the run.

Caravaggio was famous during his own lifetime but shunned after his death. Nevertheless, his works had a strong influence on the Baroque style which followed after him. According to one art historian, "what begins in the work of Caravaggio is, quite simply, modern painting."

For a closer look at the pictures, please click on them to enlarge.
1.
Painted between 1601-1602, this piece is entitled Amor Vincit Omnia. How does this Latin Phrase translate into English?
Arms Vanquish the Best
Love's Labours Lost
Armour of God
Love Conquers All
Some alternative names for the painting include Victorious Cupid, Love Triumphant, and Love Victorious.
The Roman god Cupid is shown trampling over a violin, a lute, some armour, a coronet, a square and compasses, and a pen and manuscript - thus signifying love's superiority over all other human endeavours
2.
Created circa 1595, the first of Caravaggio's religious paintings is this piece which depicts Saint Francis of Assisi in which state?
In Ecstasy
In Slumber
In Rapture
In Death
Thought to have been painted at the request of Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy is a representation of the moment when the Saint was visited by an angel who showed him Christ's suffering. Caravaggio's painting is a more serene version of the tale which, in some accounts, included fire and blood
3.
This is thought to be Caravaggio's final work. Painted in Naples in 1610, it depicts the martyrdom of which saint?
Saint Catherine
Saint Elisabeth
Saint Ursula
Saint Mary
Saint Ursula was kidnapped by the King of the Huns. When she refused to marry him she was shot with an arrow, which is the scene portrayed in the picture.
Caravaggio died shortly after the painting was completed. Whilst journeying to Rome in order to seek pardon for a death he had caused in a duel, the 38 year old artist died, reportedly from a fever
4.
This is Caravaggio's earliest known work, Boy Peeling Fruit. It was painted in Rome when the artist was 21 years old and is now a part of the Longhi collection in Italy. A slightly larger version of the painting was made a year later and is now a part of the Royal Collection, displayed at which palace?
Buckingham Palace
Blenheim Palace
Hampton Court Palace
Holyrood Palace
Another of Caravaggio's paintings The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew, is also a part of the Royal Collection, and that piece can also been at Hampton Court Palace
5.
Subtitled at the Fountain, this is one of at least 8 paintings by Caravaggio showing which biblical figure?
Jesus Christ
King David
John the Baptist
Adam
This particular painting shows John drinking from a spring - a reference to him drinking only water during his time spent in the wilderness. Caravaggio painted other pictures of John as a youth in the wilderness, as well as three different depictions of his death
6.
This work, Portrait of Maffeo Barberini, was made around 1598. In later years the subject rose to which position in the Catholic Church?
Bishop
Archbishop
Cardinal
Pope
Barberini was a patron of the arts and commissioned Sacrifice of Isaac from Caravaggio in 1603. In 1623 he became Pope Urban VIII
7.
Located today in the Cleveland Museum of Art, this piece which was painted in 1607, shows the crucifixion of which Saint - one of the 12 Apostles?
Saint Peter
Saint Andrew
Saint Matthew
Saint John
During his crucifixion Andrew was said to have spoken to the crowd and converted them to Christianity. They demanded his release, but Andrew refused to be taken down from the cross, insistent on becoming a martyr.
The idea that Andrew was martyred on an X-shaped cross did not come to the fore until a century after Caravaggio's time, hence the more regular T-shaped crucifix
8.
Painted in 1609, the Adoration of the Shepherds has which unique honour amongst Caravaggio's works?
It was the most expensive during the artist's lifetime
It has the largest dimensions of the artist's works
It was the most expensive after the artist's death
It has the smallest dimensions of the artist's works
The piece was commissioned by the city of Messina for a fee of 1,000 scudi - a high price for the time. The most valuable work by Caravaggio today is thought to be the Conversion of Saint Paul which was painted around 1600 and has an estimated value of between £70 - £100 million
9.
This is a second version of a painting which is also known as Murtula after the poet who wrote, "Flee, for if your eyes are petrified in amazement, she will turn you to stone." Which mythological character does the painting portray?
Scylla
Medusa
Charybdis
Circe
According to the Roman poet Ovid, Medusa had been a beautiful young woman, but when she was raped in Athena's temple, the angered goddess transformed Medusa's hair into snakes and her face became so hideous that to see it would turn a man to stone.
The original of this work is privately owned, but this later version can be seen in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy
10.
Painted during the last year of Caravaggio's life, this piece depicts which two biblical figures?
Cain and Abel
Herod and John the Baptist
Jonathan and Saul
David and Goliath
The face of Goliath is that of Caravaggio himself, whilst the figure of David is said to be "little Caravaggio." This symbolism could mean that the artist's reckless behaviour as a young man has had repercussions which have ruined his adult life

 

Author:  Graeme Haw

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