Caravaggio Paintings: 6 Famous Masterpiece Artworks
Caravaggio is an Italian artist who left an incredible mark in the Baroque period. He developed a style that combined psychological insight and dramatic lighting.
Also, Caravaggio preferred to paint his subjects with all their natural flaws instead of idealized creations. Most of his works are influenced by Venetian and Lombard paintings. Let's discuss the top Caravaggio paintings.
The Adolescent Bacchus
This painting is now recognized as Caravaggio's early works. Although it's listed in the 17th-century inventories, the art dates back to 1609. The actual painting was found at the Uffizi in 1916 - two centuries later.
The Adolescent Bacchus featured the Roman God of wine and harvest. He was reclining in a youthful fashion with wine leaves in his hair and a loosely draped robe.
Being one of his early works, some folks speculated that Caravaggio used a mirror to paint. But upon the restoration of the work, most people believed he used a paintbrush in his hand.
If you zoom closely on the carafe, you might discover the artist has hidden the faintest of self-portraits in the deep red liquid.
Another interesting thing you can see is that the subject is offering a glass of wine with his left hand. This further brings the speculation that the artist used a mirror to paint. Today, this painting is displayed among the other works of Caravaggio.
The Cardsharps painting seemed to have disappeared over the centuries but was later discovered in a European art collection in 1987. It featured two cheats looking to swindle an innocent-looking young man.
One thing that makes this picture static is that the boy glances at his card. But he's aware that the man on his right is also looking. He retrieves his best play card from the back pocket.
Since the viewers are aware of what's going on, they become part of the cheating. This masterpiece tells a fun story innovatively.
The Cardsharps is arguably one of the most preserved works of Caravaggio. Everything has been restored to its original dimensions.
Over the years, this painting has spawned countless paintings in Europe. And it was inventoried among his possessions after his death in 1627.
Head of Medusa
Medusa is a monster described as a woman with golden wings and booze hands. The head is painted on a circular shield - the figure is described as field mythology. It's believed that she could turn those who looked at her into a stone. Instead of hair, she had venomous snakes on her head.
The mouth hangs wide open, and blood pours down in many streaks. The shield was meant to strike fear in enemies, while the beheaded medusa represented a violent lifelike.
Furthermore, the eye-popping shock shows that she's conscious of her brutal death. An appalling impression is displayed. It's believed that the painting was for Ferdinand I De, the Duke of Tuscany at the time.
One thing you'll appreciate about this painting is the chemical composition. The shield was covered with linen, and four layers of paint were added. This layer consisted of lead-in yellow paint and verdigris.
The top layer featured a mixture of turpentine and had traces of bee wax. In terms of style, the head of Medusa paint portrayed a high level of realism in three dimensions.
If you look closely, Medusa's jaws are elongated to complement the nature of the painting. This painting was not attributed to Caravaggio until 1631 (40 years later). It's the second version of medusa currently held at Uffizi gallery.
The Incredulity of St. Thomas
Thomas was a dubious character who couldn't believe the resurrection of Jesus. If you zoom closely, you'll see him touching the crucifixion wounds on his torso.
This painting is concentrated on a solid Romanesque, but the focus is on St. Thomas. It's clear that the hands of the other two apostles are concealed, and the curiosity is less restrained. All three apostles are fascinated by the wounds.
Christ comes out as understanding character rather than reproachful - no sign of divinity. His body is made of flesh and blood, but his resurrection is apprehended as miraculous.
Although the Incredulity of St. Thomas painting was the original version, other painters have copied it.
Prince Ludovisi, Ciriaco Mattel, and Cardinal Del Monte have a version of it. But they lack the psychological penetrations - it has struck a contemporary response.
Amor Vincit Omnia
This painting features a young and reckless cupid. He triumphs over music and fame. The boy has eagle wings that are captured as if he's climbing down from a table.
The legs are spread with the genitals exposed. This is at the center of the composition. Also, the photographic clarity and dramatic lighting make the painting appear real.
Despite some indications that Caravaggio liked to paint from a live model, he likely had this picture in mind. Littered on the floor, you'll see a violin, lute, and a manuscript that represents art.
There's also an amour that represents political power. This painting was a success among the cultural elite. The title reads `Vigils Eclogues' which means that love conquers all.
The Taking of Christ
This painting depicted the arrest of Jesus Christ. Judas identifies Christ with a kiss, while a man on a far-right is seen holding a lantern.
It's evident that the source of light comes from the left, and the setting is obscured. At the far left, a man stands with his hands raised and mouth wide open.
Only three-quarters of the bodies are depicted in the painting, but the heads of Judas and Jesus are more evident. At the center, the soldiers appear polished. This painting brings a sense of self-reflection to the spiritual leaders during that period.
This shows that Caravaggio was an observer of events, something he frequently used in his painting. One thing you'll note about this art is Caravaggio's mastery of color, lighting, and shade.
For more than 200 years, the whereabouts of this painting remained a mystery. But in 1990, the masterpiece was discovered in the Society of Jesus, Dublin. Today, the painting of Christ painting is preserved at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.
It's worth mentioning that there are only 12 copies of this painting. Caravaggio preferred to use paint on his subjects as the eyes could see them. He remains a pivotal figure in the history of art.