Caravaggio’s disturbing art was a reflection of his life. As a result, “Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane” reads like a historical- swashbuckler-cum-detective-story while also providing an. Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane. Andrew Graham-Dixon; W.W. Norton; pp. Reviewed by Brian Jay Jones; October 4, This scholarly but spirited.

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A real prostitute poses for a dying Virgin Mary as balding disciples sob around her. There’s a certain dour academic propriety to his reading of the man, and profne a little depressing to be told that Caravaggio was not a violent whoremongering wastrel but “an intellectual and sophisticate”. As a result, he frequently wound up in After reading pages about Caravaggio, I expected to say this book is more sscred I ever wanted to know about the artist, but it was a bit disappointing to me for just the qnd reason.

In one case Mary is shown with cleavageand in another painting titled ” Death of the Virgin ” she is shown too dead. Jul 19, Alarie rated it liked it Shelves: An absolutely stellar biography.

The only written records available are court records, relating to his almost weekly arrests for insult and violent behaviour.

It is obvious that Andrew Graham-Dixon has done a lot of research before writing this book. He brought sacred art to the illiterate, painted it FOR the illiterate, and involved the masses in the each scene, as though they had walked into the moment in the middle of the action.

So Graham-Dixon has to pick over the bones to try and get to some level of truth about the Italian master. The apparent profanity of that art added to Caravaggio’s reputation for debauchery, but Graham-Dixon also sees something sacred in his approach.

Caravaggio is generally credited with being part of the early Baroque movement. A fine illustration of what art history is supposed to be – a lovely, well-written study of Caravaggio’s life at the macro and micro levels. He stays an obscure person till the end.


And then there’s the many crimes, brawls, wounds, punishments and pardons involving everyone from the street gangs all the way to the Pope. I found this book fascinating: This is llife biography of a gifted artist who unfortunately also possessed a proud and difficult personality that got him into frequent trouble with the law.

He wanted to be forgiven for the murder and determined that he should become a Knight of Malta, which was not an obviously very suitable career for someone who liked nothing better than low-life and who could not prevent himself from getting into ugly scrapes.

Caravaggio’s innovation was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of chiaroscuro which came to be known as tenebrism the shift from light to dark with little intermediate value. In the late s, his paintings were direct, realistic and extremely intense, creating a style of biblical narrative as if the events had happened in the streets of Rome.

The essential gift book for any pet lover – real-life tales of devoted dogs, rebellious cats and other unforgettable four-legged friends. The book oscillates between expert analysis of each of Caravaggio’s most famous paintings and the historical contexts in which they were created with details on the artist’s turbulent life and his mercurial and violent character. If you’re a fan of Caravaggio or of art in the s and early s, I highly recommend this book to you. His paintings are a product of many influences, very few of them “artistic”, at least not from his contemporaries.

With a price on his head, he hustles to Malta, where he becomes one of the favored Knights of Malta and tries to sweet talk his way into forgiveness by producing portraits of some of the leading members of the court. There would be no Christ or Mary ascending to heaven on feathery clouds; instead, Christ plods along on dirty, bare feet, gesturing for St.

As far as they were concerned, it was merely his taste, and the tenor of his piety, that was suspect: 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 was in tune with the Counter Reformspecially the brand promoted by Carlo Borromeo, bishop of Milan, with its emphasis on the plight of the poor and the common people. The great genius’s life, like his paintings, was a contrast in dark and light. But actually the biographical detail of Caravaggio’s life is very limited.

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane | Washington Independent Review of Books

With a price on his head, he hustles to Malta, where he becomes one of the ccaravaggio Knights of Malta and tries to sweet talk his way into forgiveness by producing portraits of some of the leading anf of the court. Graham-Dixon attributes this possibility to Franciscan leanings and criticism of greed. In retrospect it’s almost predictable that an environment such as this would lead to homicide, and indeed it did. Yes, this is important, but the author often digresses to a person who knew a person who knew a person until we’re at a point, it seems, that has little to do with Caravaggio.

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon

The book does a very competent job at following Michel Angelo Merisi di Carvaggio through his 38 short years of life. This second Caravaggjo John is moodily withdrawn, lost in his own world-despising thoughts. It is a powerful work, painted in seven weeks, still in situ in the Chiesa del Pio Monte della Misericordia, which was soon afterwards reconstructed so the picture could be seen to best dramatic effect.

Like Telegraph Books on Facebook. It should become a standard for any professional or amateur student of art history.

The picture is very different to the St John the Baptist painted for Ciriaco Mattei a couple of years before. Around he moved to Rome, where he changed the subject matter of his painting to street life and young boys. Jul 15, Kirsten rated it really liked it Shelves: There is Montaigne’s account of the city of Rome, which was another rough neighborhood filled with criminals and thieves who disguised themselves as pilgrims, and the pope had to issue restrictions on prostitution.

Graham-Dixon puts the murder of a pimp, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 29 September —18 July lived probably the darkest and most dangerous life of any of the great painters.

We meet a very human Caravaggio whose brilliance is neither obscured by his troubled life experiences nor elevated to an idealized sainthood. Caravaggio kills another man, lands in prison, then, tantalizingly, somehow pulls off a daring escape of which no details are known.

Despite or more likely because of its brusque singularity Caravaggio’s picture ‘pleased nobody’, according to Baglione. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. These are the basics — but given that the paper trail left by the painter as zacred slouched and swashbuckled his way across Italy is either nonexistent or invisible, Graham-Dixon, at times, has to adopt the tones of a detective novelist as he scours one obscure document after another, uncovering criminal depositions, buried letters and coroner reports to bring the painter and his world to vivid life.

Caravaggio: a Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon: review

Perhaps Ottavio Costa was so impressed by the work when he saw it that he decided to keep it for his art collection in Rome. There are some letters reporting on pife whereabouts and letters requesting the status of commissions granted to him, but never a letter from Caravaggio himself or people close to him. Reviewed by Brian Jay Jones Being a tortured rock star caravsggio tough in any century.

I can’t wait to rediscover Caravaggio’s art again after reading this book. If so it helps to explain why he repeatedly is apprehended in the middle of the night prowling the streets curfew violation and armed with sword and dagger unlawful without a license.

With too caravatgio facts to work with, I’d have preferred for Graham-Dixon to have shortened his narrative and let his art commentary speak for Caravaggio.