Description: On May 28, 1606 in a field near Piazza Navona, two men challenged each other to a duel to settle a dispute over gambling debts and, more than likely, over a woman for whose attention each was vying. The woman was a famous courtesan of the day, one of the two men was Caravaggio, the famous painter, and the other was Ranuccio Tammosoni, who was to fall at the hands of Caravaggio. Caravaggio himself was gravely wounded, but fearing to fall into the hands of Spanish justice, he flees from Rome and the Papal States. And so begins Caravaggio's long exile , never to set foot again in Rome.
Over the next four years he is to live for short periods in Naples, the islands of Malta and Sicily, and then back again to Naples in August 1609. During this last sojourn in Naples, Caravaggio suffers from grievous bodily harm, yet despite long periods of suffering, he is surprisingly active producing extraordinary works of art. In the summer of the following year, he leaves Naples on board a small sailing boat headed to Rome, where his protectors are attempting to extract a pardon from the pope to clear him of the death penalty which still hangs over his head. He brings aboard with him three paintings, among which, Infant St. John the Baptist and probably David with Goliath's Head. But he meets his death on the shores of Port Empedocle in southern Tuscany, about 100km from Rome. It's not known if his death was due to the worsening of his already precarious state of health, a bout of malaria or yet another scuffle. We know from the grave stone that he was buried there at the age of 39 after days of terrible suffering and agony. Death, which he had so often depicted- dark, ferocious and inexorable.
The spectre of death remained with him constantly, no doubt conjuring a hundred new and ancient visions in the heart and mind of the artist. But those images are to remain a mystery, the mystery of a man difficult to understand even through his art work. A violent, rebellious and turbulent genius, yet with so much more lying within his depths.
We offer you a journey into the life and art of one of the most creative, passionate and ill-fated painters in the history of Italian art. A journey into the life of the city and the papal court of the time, which under the influence of the Baroque acquires a new splendour. Not to mention the scandals created by his art work : paintings commissioned by and then rejected by the Church only to be snapped up by cardinals and private art collectors.
A journey through the passion and ardour with which Caravaggio painted and re-painted figures, gestures and sometimes the entire painting in a bid to capture on canvas the exact image he had cultivated in his heart and mind. He infused his art with the same power and intensity as the images that he saw and felt in his mind's eye. A simple style of painting filled with figures who have no story, who are not worthy of history books and who are not kings, nor princes, nor poets. They are friends, lovers acquaintances of the painter. Real people whose expressions, sensuality, faces and gestures are captured by the artist. And so time and again, we see the Madonna depicted with the face of his lover, none other than a famous prostitute. Saints with dirty feet whose faces are those of his friends with which he frequents the city's taverns till late into the night. And according to one of his biographers, like him, they are badly dressed, bathe infrequently and are guilty of immoral conduct. Even they are God's children, or better still, even more so – for the most humble and the rejected are worthy, for Caravaggio, of being remembered as children of God.
A journey undertaken by examining works of art by Caravaggio present in the Borghese Gallery, the churches of Santa Maria del Popolo, San Luigi dei Francesi, and Sant'Agostino, and in the gallery of the Barberini Palace.