Caravaggio: The Artist and His Work

Caravaggio: The Artist and His Work

by Sybille Ebert-Schifferer
     
 

The young Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) created a major stir in late-sixteenth-century Rome with the groundbreaking naturalism and highly charged emotionalism of his paintings. One might think, given the vast number of books that have been written about him, that everything that could possibly be said about the artist has been said. However, the

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Overview

The young Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) created a major stir in late-sixteenth-century Rome with the groundbreaking naturalism and highly charged emotionalism of his paintings. One might think, given the vast number of books that have been written about him, that everything that could possibly be said about the artist has been said. However, the author of this book argues, it is important to take a fresh look at the often repeated and widely accepted narratives about the artist’s life and work. 

Sybille Ebert-Schifferer subjects the available sources to a critical reevaluation, uncovering evidence that the efforts of Caravaggio’s contemporaries to disparage his character and his artwork often sprang from their own cultural biases or a desire to promote the artistic achievements of his rivals. Contrary to repeated claims in the literature, the painter lacked neither education nor piety, but was an extremely accomplished technician who developed a successful marketing strategy. He enjoyed great respect and earned high fees from his prestigious clients while he also inspired a large circle of imitators. Even his brushes with the law conformed to the behavioral norms of the aristocratic Romans he sought to emulate.

The beautiful reproductions of Caravaggio’s paintings in this volume make clear why he captivated the imagination of his contemporaries, a reaction that echoes today in the ongoing popularity of his work and the fierce debate that it continues to provoke among art historians. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Among the expansively divergent critical opinions regarding Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Ebert-Schifferer (Still Life: A History) offers this technically minded reckoning with the available research. A controversial and influential figure in his day, Caravaggio continues to incite debate 400 years later. Rather than accept the stories of the artist as merely an uneducated troublemaker (albeit a wildly talented one), making muses out of sex workers and young boys, Ebert-Schifferer instead strictly focuses her attention on historical documents and technical research. Beholden to incontrovertible evidence, and taking advantage of X-ray examinations of the paintings, the author finds her way to frequent insight, particularly when analyzing the spiritual content of significant works or expounding upon Caravaggio's own innovations with light. Many of the apocryphal stories at the heart of the artist's legend are dispelled, such as the common belief that he used the body of a drowned sex worker as a model. Even without this dramatic draw, Ebert-Schifferer manages an engaging read through a thoroughly academic subject, ultimately making a convincing argument that Caravaggio's oeuvre continues to deserve our attention, regardless of how often and with whom the artist brawled. Illus.
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From the Publisher
“A perceptive and readable scholarly volume.”—The Burlington Magazine

“Richly illustrated with numerous fine color plates.”—Choice

“[Caravaggio] accomplishes the seemingly impossible by offering readers a fresh take on the issues of market, reception, and knowledge that informed Caravaggio’s artistic production.”—Renaissance Quarterly

“This is a rigorous and scrupulous reexamination of Caravaggio’s works by the standards of art. . . . The narrative is clear and well-reasoned, and the translation from the original German is exemplary. . . . And then there are the works themselves! Gorgeously reproduced and exceptionally well integrated into the text, this is a book that should be particularly sought after by those new to the works of this incomparable master.”—THE Magazine

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781606060957
Publisher:
Getty Publications
Publication date:
06/05/2012
Edition description:
1
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
609,707
Product dimensions:
10.50(w) x 12.40(h) x 1.20(d)

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