‘Beyond Caravaggio’ at The National Gallery in London

Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist 
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
About 1609-10-© The National Gallery, London
Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio About 1609-10-© The National Gallery, London

A free soul, a master, a traveller, a great storyteller that injected new life into biblical stories, often blurring the lines between sacred and profane subjects. Who was really Caravaggio? The new exhibition Beyond Caravaggio (12 October 2016 – 15 January 2017) at The National Gallerythe first major exhibition in the UK to explore the influence of Caravaggio on the art of his contemporaries and followers, will also answer this question.

His paintings that combine darkness, light, violence and drama made him one of art’s most revolutionary figures. The contrast between light and darkness, positive and negative, inspired many other artists and this new exhibition will explore the influence Caravaggio had on the art of his followers.

Dice players Nicolas Tournier about 1620-5 © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Dice players
Nicolas Tournier
about 1620-5 © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (i.e. he was from Caravaggio, a small village in Lombardy) was born in 1571 surviving a plague in Milan when he was just a boy. He trained in Milan and Venice, but it was in Rome that he became popular. And in Rome he faced problems with the law. Fights, assaults, squalls: Caravaggio went to prison several times during his life, becoming famous for his turbulent attitude. Caravaggio is always said of being sued by a waiter for throwing in his face a plate of artichokes.

Later in 1606 he was injured by a man during the game of pallacorda (a kind of tennis) and then he injured him causing his death. After a death sentence, he left Rome for Naples and years later he moved south, to Malta and Sicily, where he died at the age of 39.

An Old Woman and a Boy by Candlelight Matthias Stom probably 1620s-© Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council

An Old Woman and a Boy by Candlelight
Matthias Stom
probably 1620s-© Birmingham Museums Trust on behalf of Birmingham City Council

Bringing together several works by Caravaggio and the Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish artists he inspired, Beyond Caravaggio examines the international artistic phenomenon known as Caravaggism.

Caravaggio’s practice of painting from life and his use of chiaroscuro (strongly contrasted lighting effects) were quickly emulated, but artists did not simply replicate his style, developing their own approaches.

Beyond Caravaggio is the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the influence of Caravaggio on the art of his contemporaries and followers.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the National Gallery, London, the National Gallery of Ireland, and the National Galleries of Scotland.

To book your tickets click here.

 

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