Sunday, July 25, 2010

SATOSHI on the Possible Discovery of a Caravaggio

According to the Vatican's newspaper, an undiscovered Caravaggio may have been found in Rome.

Belonging to the Jesuits in Rome, the said painting depicts The Martyrdom of st. Lawrence. According to the newspaper, it is currently being studied by art historians.

Looking at the picture on the newspaper, it does have all the characteristics of a Caravaggio: the dramatic lighting, the realistic portrayal of human emotions and actions; and the unique dimensionality of composition.

I do like Caravaggio's work. I remember trying to decide whether to queue up or not in London back in 2005 for the much talked about Caravaggio: The Final Years exhibition at the National Gallery. I did queue up and was totally bowled over by it. The paintings were like action movie stills projected onto the walls. The way objects were positioned and the way parts of subjects' body thrusted toward my eyes were unnerving.

The way the exhibition was designed was excellent. The paintings were set against dark walls and spotlit strategically empowering Caravaggio's paintings, making them glow within the dark cavernous spaces echoing the same dark spaces found in his works and of his final years.

Though the exhibition focused on final years, I can't help but feel that I was seeing his best works. Caravaggio died at the age of 38 (or 36 according to some other scholars) in mysterious circumstances. He led a wild lifestyle and was often involved in street violence. This culminated in his stabbing and killing a man prior going on the run at the age of 34.

There are a lot of books on him, one book that I encountered and enjoyed as a casual reading was Jonathan Harr's The Lost Painting. Not exactly a scholarly documentation of Caravaggio's works or life, it was more of a re-telling of how a Caravaggio painting was lost and re-discovered... a very relevant reading to this possible new discovery in Rome.

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