Michelangelo Caravaggio Painting
Bacchus is the Roman name for the Greek god Dionysus. Bacchus was painted by Michelangelo Caravaggio after he arrived in Rome in 1589. Bacchus is one of the exceptional compositions of Caravaggio early artwork. In Bacchus, Caravaggio approaches the subject with striking uniformity: the painting is somewhat light on detail, rather directing on the form and stimulating the viewer with a playful gaze appearance of the Roman deity. The Bacchus was ordered by Cardinal del Monte the year after Caravaggio enrolled his court. Cardinal del Monte commissioned approximately 40 paintings from Caravaggio, multiple portraying comparatively emasculate, sexualized young men.
Michelangelo Caravaggio was a leading figure in Rome in the 1610s of the artistic rebellion which tidied across Europe, in Bacchus painting Caravaggio illustrates a masterful naturalistic depiction of still life. Caravaggio portrayal of the basket of fruit and the cup of wine proffered by God is remarkable, with such factors deciphered by some fine art critics as a Horatian request to frugality, sociability, and attention. The vessel in Bacchus paintings with spoiled fruit is an illustration of a vanitas, which implies ‘emptiness’. Vanitas notes in the old Christian belief to the emptiness and inadequacy of all worldly goods and aspirations. Spoiled fruit is one obvious way to display this symbolism. Notice, the dirty fingernails of Bacchus. Some art critics read this as a sign of the consequences of worldly desires, while others just connect this to the style of Caravaggio. On Bacchus's head is a garland of vine-leaves, the vine leaves in Bacchus’ hair are one of his divine representatives, and that is used to identify him. Ultimately, it appears that Bacchus is wearing some blush on his face, which is frequently linked with sensuality and that he is beckoning the viewer for more than a glass of wine. and in his hands are a crystal-clear bottle of wine and a calyx, a nod to his status as the God of wine. Bacchus's personality is concurrently light, supple, and strong, with a clear, mature light striking over his creamy flesh. Creating a radiant, attractive male body, which is one of the trademarks of Italian Renaissance art movement. Caravaggio is a pioneer of the Italian Baroque style. Baroque art concentrated on detached and nonexclusive works of fine art with an active and vigorous state. The success of this art genre was supported by the Roman Catholic Church and the nobility, which marked Baroque art as a method of displaying wealth and power.
As was generally the case with Caravaggio's works, Bacchus is striking for the artist's careful attention to realistic detail. One of the art historians' favorite topics when discussing Caravaggio's Bacchus is the still-life of fruit in the foreground. The artist's early years painting fruits and flowers for the Caveliere d'Arpino definitely paid off, as the Caravaggio's mastery of still-life elements shines brilliantly. Like the dirty fingernails, many have wondered if this basket of bruised, overripe, wormy fruits could also have a symbolic message, such as a warning of the fleetingness of youth and the eminence of death, or if Caravaggio was just painting what he truly saw. After the Bacchus was restored, conservators discovered that Caravaggio even painted in a tiny reflection of himself on the carafe of wine. Once again, the careful observer can spot the familiar face of the model who is probably Mario Minniti, who can also be seen in The Fortune Teller as well as several other early paintings. Although the purported subject of this painting is a Greek god, Caravaggio makes no effort to uphold the illusion. The model's vaguely antique toga is recognizable as a contemporary men' s shirt pulled down over one shoulder, and the artist even shows the dirty mattress peeking out under a none-too-clean sheet. Caravaggio has carefully depicted his model's "farmer's tan": the skin of his chest and upper arms is pale and white, while his face and hands are ruddy and red. As in many other paintings, Caravaggio shows even the dirt under his models' fingernails. Some have interpreted the Bacchus' dirty fingernails as a symbolic warning of the consequences of physical pleasure. In the wider context of Caravaggio's oeuvre, however, it could just be realism plain and simple.
Who is Bacchus?
In classical mythology, Bacchus is the son of Jupiter and Semele. However, he was raised by nymphs after Semele burned to ashes, overwhelmed by the splendor of Jupiter in his true form. Once he grew up, Bacchus wandered the earth learning about the culture of the vine and the mysteries of winemaking. He studied the religious rites of the goddess Rhea and began sharing the good news far and wide. When Bacchus returned home from his adventures, the king was none too pleased with his shenanigans and ordered him to put to death. Bacchus tried to talk his way out of execution by spinning a fanciful yarn in which he claimed to be a fisherman, but the king wasn't having any of it. However, before the death sentence could be carried out, the prison doors sprung open of their own accord, Bacchus vanished, and his worshipers threw a huge party in his honor.
Origins of Bacchus
Bacchus is often confused with Dionysus. They represent the same symbology and myths, as Bacchus is the Roman version of the Greek god. When exploring the myths surrounding Bacchus, it’s easy to see that he is a duplicate of Dionysus. Their myths are virtually identical except for the names of supporting roles. Bacchus meaning in English roughly translates to the words "berry, olive-berry, bead, pearl."
The Birth of Bacchus
Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, a god. His mother was a mortal named Semele. Jupiter was married to Juno but had an affair with Semele, resulting in the conception of Bacchus. Juno learned of the affair and sought revenge against the woman who seduced her husband. Mortals were unable to view gods in their original form. Instead, gods transformed their appearances when they associated with mortals. Knowing very well of this, Juno tricked Semele into seeing Jupiter in his true form and she was burned up by seeing him in his divine form. She had not yet given birth to Bacchus, so Jupiter sewed the baby to his thigh and carried him until he was ready to be born.
Bacchus and Wine
Bacchus was known as the god of agriculture and wine. He spent his childhood in training by Silenus, a great lover of wine. After his training was complete, he chose to share his knowledge with the masses and traveled the world teaching others how to grow the necessary components and turn them into wine. He did this until he took his place at Olympus. There are many statues and painted works of art dedicated to Bacchus. He is usually shown as a middle-aged man with a beard and a full head of hair that’s been crowned with an intricate headpiece filled with grapes and vines. He is also often shown with a glass of wine, presumably made by him.
Bacchus is most often associated with wine and vines. It is uncommon to see him pictured without them. Another symbol for the god is his staff, which was topped with a pinecone. He often carried this staff and used it while traveling the world. He is also associated with celebration, as he always had a procession filled with followers who would dance while he made wine.
Bacchus by Michelangelo Caravaggio (Wooden Frame Ready to Hang)
Baroque painting encompasses a great range of styles, as most important and major painting during the period beginning around 1600 and continuing throughout the 17th century, and into the early 18th century is identified today as Baroque painting. In its most typical manifestations, Baroque art is characterized by great drama, rich, deep color, and intense light and dark shadows, but the classicism of French Baroque painters like Poussin and Dutch genre painters such as Vermeer are also covered by the term, at least in English. As opposed to Renaissance art, which usually showed the moment before an event took place, Baroque artists chose the most dramatic point, the moment when the action was occurring. Baroque art was meant to evoke emotion and passion instead of the calm rationality that had been prized during the Renaissance.
Caravaggio was born as Michelangelo Merisi in Italy around 1571. He was orphaned at age 11 and apprenticed with a painter in Milan. He moved to Rome, where his work became popular for the tenebrism technique he used, which used shadow to emphasize lighter areas. His career, however, was short-lived. Caravaggio killed a man during a brawl and fled Rome. He died not long after, on July 18, 1610. Caravaggio, whose fiery masterpieces included "The Death of the Virgin" and "David with the Head of Goliath," and who inspired generations of artists, was born as Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio in 1571 in Italy. The world he arrived in was violent and, at times, unstable. His birth came just a week before the Battle of Lepanto, a bloody conflict in which Turkish invaders were driven out of Christendom. Not much is known about Caravaggio's early family life. His father, Fermo Merisi, was the steward and architect of the Marquis of Caravaggio. When Caravaggio was six, the bubonic plague rolled through his life, killing almost everyone in his family, including his father.
According to writer Andrew Graham-Dixon, author of the 2011 biography "Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane," the artist's troubled adult years stemmed directly from that traumatic loss of his family. "He almost seems bound to transgress," Dixon writes. "It's almost like he cannot avoid transgressing. As soon as he's welcomed by authority, welcomed by the pope, welcomed by the Knights of Malta, he has to do something to screw it up. It's almost like a fatal flaw."Orphaned, Caravaggio took to the streets and fell in with a group of "painters and swordsmen who lived by the motto nec spe, nec metu, 'without hope, without fear,'" wrote an earlier biographer. At the age of 11, Caravaggio relocated to Milan and began apprenticing with the painter Simone Peterzano. In his late teens, perhaps as early as 1588, a penniless Caravaggio moved to Rome. There, to keep himself fed, Caravaggio found work assisting other painters, many of them far less talented than he. But as instability defined his existence, Caravaggio jumped from one job to the next.
Sometime around 1595, Caravaggio struck out on his own and started selling his paintings through a dealer. His work soon caught the attention of Cardinal Francesco del Monte, who adored Caravaggio's paintings and quickly set him up in his own house, with room, board and a pension. A prolific painter, Caravaggio was known to work quickly, often starting and completing a painting in just two weeks. By the time he had come under the influence of del Monte, Caravaggio already had 40 works to his name. The lineup included "Boy with a Basket of Fruit," "The Young Bacchus" and "The Music Party." Much of Caravaggio's early work featured chubby, pretty young boys done up as angels or lutenists or his favorite saint, John the Baptist. Many of the boys in the paintings are naked or loosely clothed. Caravaggio's only known assistant was a boy named Cecco, who appears in a number of Caravaggio's works and who may have also been his lover.
In 1597, Caravaggio was awarded the commission for the decoration of the Contarelli Chapel in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. It was an important and daunting assignment, charging the 26-year-old painter with the task of creating three large paintings depicting separate scenes from St. Matthew's life. The three resulting works, "St. Matthew and the Angel," "The Calling of St. Matthew," and "The Martyrdom of St. Matthew," were finished in 1601, and together showed Caravaggio's remarkable range as an artist. But these works also provoked much consternation from the church and public alike. In his execution of the work, Caravaggio eschewed the traditional worshipful depictions of the saints and presented St. Matthew in a far more realistic light. His first version of "St. Matthew and the Angel" caused so much angst among his patrons that he had to redo it. For Caravaggio, however, the commission provided an exciting new direction for his painting, one in which he could lift traditional religious scenes and cast them with his own dark interpretation. His biblical scenes became populated with the prostitutes, beggars and thieves whom he had encountered on the streets of Rome. In addition to some financial relief, the Contarelli Chapel commission also provided Caravaggio a wealth of exposure and work. His paintings from the next few years included "The Crucifixion of St. Peter," "The Conversion of St. Paul," "The Deposition of Christ" and his famous "Death of the Virgin." The latter, with its depiction of the Virgin Mary with a swollen belly and bared legs, packed so much of Caravaggio's style that it was turned away by the Carmelites and eventually landed in the hands of the Duke of Mantua.
Controversy, though, only fueled Caravaggio's success. And as that success grew, so did the painter's own personal turmoil. He could be a violent man, with drastic mood swings and a love for drinking and gambling. A frequent fighter, Caravaggio eventually served a short prison sentence in 1603 following another painter's complaint that Caravaggio had attacked him. But the next few years only saw Caravaggio's temper becoming hotter. His litany of assaults included throwing a plate of artichokes at a waiter in 1604 and attacking Roman guards with stones in 1605. Wrote one observer: "After a fortnight's work he will swagger about for a month or two with a sword at his side and a servant following him, from one ballcourt to the next, ever ready to engage in a fight or an argument." His violence finally erupted with force in 1606, when he killed a well-known Roman pimp named Ranuccio Tomassoni. Historians have long speculated about what was at the root of the crime. Some have suggested that it was over an unpaid debt, while others have claimed that it was the result of an argument over a game of tennis. More recently, historians, including Andrew Graham-Dixon, have pointed to Caravaggio's lust for Tomassoni's wife, Lavinia.
Immediately following the murder, Caravaggio fled Rome and sought refuge in a host of other locations: Naples, Malta and Sicily, among others. But even as he fled from punishment for his crime, fame followed Caravaggio. In Malta, he was received into the Order of Malta as a Knight of Justice, an award that he was soon stripped of when the Order learned of the crime he had committed. However, even as he fled, Caravaggio continued to work. In Naples, he painted "Madonna of the Rosary" for a fellow painter, and later "The Seven Works of Mercy" for the church of Pio Chapel of Monte della Misericordia. In Malta, he created "Beheading of St. John the Baptist" for the cathedral in Valletta. In Messina, his work included "The Resurrection of Lazarus" and "The Adoration of the Shepherds," while in Palermo he painted the "Adoration with St. Francis and St. Lawrence." One of Caravaggio's more shocking paintings from this period is "Resurrection," in which the painter revealed a less saintly, more bedraggled Jesus Christ escaping from his tomb in the middle of the night. This scene was no doubt inspired by events in Caravaggio's own life. By this time, Caravaggio had become a nervous wreck, always on the run and in constant fear for his life, so much so that he slept with his clothes on and with a dagger at his side.
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