The Eternal City continues to invite glorious total immersion for Caravaggio fans, and I'm planning a three-day Caravaggio Experience in Rome, April 27-29, 2011 for exactly that purpose!
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio arrived in Rome in the last decade of the 16th century, brimming with ambition. As it turned out, his youthful confidence was well founded, and his brilliant new painting style shook the art establishment to its roots.
Until his volatile temperament got the better of him, causing him to flee the city in 1606, there was constant demand for his work in Rome -- for easel paintings commissioned by private collectors as well as large canvases to decorate chapels in various churches.
As a result of that decade of patronage, Rome today is a Caravaggio-rich city. Twenty of his paintings are still on view, spotted around Rome -- many in the very chapels and palazzi for which they were originally painted more than 400 years ago. The city's collection spans his entire career, including two of his first known paintings and his last.
During the Caravaggio Experience in Rome our small group (not more than 6 participants) will explore Caravaggio’s Roman canvases, visiting nine sites -- four churches and five museum galleries -- in the historic center of the city. By the end of our three days together, we will have spent time with all 20 of the Caravaggio paintings that are to be seen in Rome.
To fully appreciate Caravaggio's work, an understanding of the world he lived in -- and the way he lived in it -- is essential. Therefore, on Day 1, before heading out on our site visits, we will discuss the social, political, religious and artistic realities of his day. I'm a great believer in context, and I've designed this SmArt Talk expressly to provide the background to enhance participants' appreciation of what we’ll see on our site visits.
1600 was a significant moment in time and Caravaggio was definitely a man of the moment. His importance in the history of art will be the unifying thread throughout our thee-day program.
Prints and pictures in books are better than nothing, but in truth, they are a feeble substitute for seeing the actual paintings. To one degree or another, the true colors and surface textures are lost in reproduction. And how surprising it can be to see the actual size of a painting, when we've become so familiar with the image in books or online.
I can talk about the tears in the Lute Player's eyes, the work-worn hands, the healthy glow of the infant's cheek, or the powdery bloom on the grapes in the still life, but one can only fully experience Caravaggio's astonishing naturalism and the stunning power of his compositions when standing before the actual paintings.
I'm already excited, just thinking about revisiting Caravaggio in his adopted city with a small group of like-minded people.
For more information about the Caravaggio Experience in Rome program, please contact me at MJM@JanesSmartArt.com