Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1599 | Widewalls

February 16, 2019

Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

One of the best-known painters of the Renaissance, Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio changed the course of art history by introducing particularly bold innovations in regards to composition, the use of light and the interpretation of mythical themes.

The Renaissance period was a definite historical milestone in every possible aspect of human activity. After the Crusades, the Black Death and Great famines of the Middle Ages came a period of consolidation. The return to the Antiquity and the human reason brought an entirely different world view, which was followed by the increasing urbanization of European societies, a process related to the conquering of other continents. The Italian cities–states were more or less led by extremely wealthy families of merchants who were often affiliated with the Papal regime, meaning that artists such as Caravaggio were able to receive lavish funding for their works, regardless of whether they were public or private commissions.

For a short period of time, Caravaggio was among the top-ranked painters in Rome, but due to his bohemian lifestyle, the artist was legally prosecuted, and considered a mad man. He became an outcast, which ultimately resulted in his sudden death in 1610. Nevertheless, Caravaggio’s contribution to the development of painting is grand, and they are still being analyzed by various scholars.

In order to honor this outstanding painter, we decided to feature five of the most iconic Caravaggio paintings which showcasenot only his artistic mastery but his personal struggle as well.

  Editors’ Tip: Caravaggio: Complete Works

This work offers a comprehensive reassessment of Caravaggio’s entire œuvre with a catalogue raisonné of his works. Each painting is reproduced in large format, with recent, high production photography allowing for dramatic close-ups with Caravaggio’s ingenious details of looks and gestures.

Featured image: Caravaggio – The Calling of Saint Matthew, detail, 1599-1600. Oil on canvas. 340 cm x 322 cm. Collection Contarelli Chapel, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Image creative commons.

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