Overview

For four hundred years Caravaggio's (1571-1610) staggering artistic achievements have thrilled viewers, yet his volatile personal trajectory-the murder of Ranuccio Tomasini, the doubt surrounding Caravaggio's sexuality, the chain of events that began with his imprisonment on Malta and ended with his premature death-has long confounded historians. In a bravura performance, Andrew Graham-Dixon delves into the original Italian sources, presenting fresh details about Caravaggio's sex life, his many crimes and public ...

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Caravaggio

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Overview

For four hundred years Caravaggio's (1571-1610) staggering artistic achievements have thrilled viewers, yet his volatile personal trajectory-the murder of Ranuccio Tomasini, the doubt surrounding Caravaggio's sexuality, the chain of events that began with his imprisonment on Malta and ended with his premature death-has long confounded historians. In a bravura performance, Andrew Graham-Dixon delves into the original Italian sources, presenting fresh details about Caravaggio's sex life, his many crimes and public brawls, and the most convincing account yet published of the painter's tragic death at the age of thirty-eight. With illuminating readings of Caravaggio's infamous religious paintings, which often depict prostitutes and poor people, Graham-Dixon immerses readers in the world of Italy at the height of the Counter-Reformation and creates a masterful profile of the mercurial painter's life and work.

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Editorial Reviews

Hilary Spurling
Given the near-total lack of documentary evidence and the elusive nature of [Caravaggio] himself, it is hardly surprising that fictional techniques have penetrated in some ways further and more surely than the sterner disciplines of art history. Graham-Dixon…ably combines the two in Caravaggio. He makes the most of Italian criminal records…to provide graphic glimpses of the young Caravaggio squabbling, fighting, trading threats and insults, smashing plates in restaurants and slashing opponents with knife or sword. The only other available source is the art, to which Graham-Dixon brings the kind of imaginative and emotional intelligence that gives life and point to painstaking research.
—The New York Times Book Review
Michael Dirda
Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane reads like a historical-swashbuckler-cum-detective-story while also providing an up-to-date introduction to some of the most admired paintings in Western art…Graham-Dixon writes with verve and clarity about the work as well as the man and his times.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
New publications (e.g., Michael Fried's The Moment of Caravaggio and John T. Spike's Caravaggio) continue to appear in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Caravaggio. This one takes a more biographical than art historical approach to the controversial artist. Art critic and BBC television art series presenter Graham-Dixon (Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel) firmly places Caravaggio in his milieu right from the beginning of his life, discussing the important connection between his family and the family of one of the heroes of the Battle of Lepanto, which took place eight days after Caravaggio's birth. Further reading suggestions (English and Italian), an index, endnotes, and maps are included. VERDICT Recommended for special collections, art faculty and students, and interested general readers. (Final images not seen.)—Nancy J. Mactague, Aurora Univ. Lib., IL
Kirkus Reviews

Expansive life of the masterful yet mercurial artist.

Even though he apprenticed and served in several studios, Caravaggio (1571–1610) painted according to his own rules, updating Bible stories with his own vision of violence. He was an autodidact unencumbered by current artistic customs, and he painted what he saw in the pious realism fostered by Carlo Borromeo, reviving the empathic visualization of Francis of Assisi and the Sacro Monte of the Piedmont region. Regressing to the art that preceded the High Renaissance, Caravaggio established an entirely new genre of stark realism and visceral detail. He never did preliminary sketches and painted only from carefully set up models; he was unable to paint from imagination or memory. His virtuosity, mastery of chiaroscuro and ability to make the sacred profane established him as the ideal for painters as varied as Rubens, Velasquez, David and even Picasso, who invoked his use of realism as he paintedGuernica. British art critic Graham-Dixon (Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, 2009, etc.) brilliantly points out how Caravaggio's paintings reflected a violent man in violent times, and self-portrait insertions in many of his paintings reflect the progression of the artist's agonies. As the artistic capital of the world, Rome quickly recognized his talent, providing many patrons to bail him out after his frequent violent encounters. His capacity for trouble mirrored his art, "a series of lightning flashes in the darkest of nights." Because he wrenched so much from the depths of his soul into his paintings, it's no wonder he lived such a short life.

An impressive web of biography, social history and art history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9788852022401
  • Publisher: MONDADORI
  • Publication date: 2/21/2012
  • Language: Italian
  • Sold by: ARNOLDO MONDADORI - EBKS
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 8 MB

Meet the Author

Andrew Graham-Dixon has presented six landmark series on art for the BBC, including the acclaimed A History of British Art, Renaissance and Art of Eternity, as well as numerous individual documentaries on art and artists. For more than twenty years he has published a weekly column on art, first in the Independent and, more recently, in the Sunday Telegraph. He has written a number of acclaimed books, on subjects ranging from medieval painting and sculpture to the art of the present, including Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, Art: The Definitive Visual Guide, and Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel.

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