450 years since the birth of Caravaggio
Today, 29th September commemorates 450 years since the birth of Caravaggio.
Michelangelo Merisi was born in 1571 in Caravaggio, a village near Milan. Troubled and afflicted painter, he was a genius who profoundly revolutionized the history of art, introducing the study of the truth and the violent use of light as a metaphor of God’s grace.
“Caravaggio’s revolution was to treat biblical and mythological subjects with realism. He completely eschews idealization. That runs completely counter to the tradition of his day. He is also a very great storyteller. He’s brilliant at digesting the stories and picking the moment that encapsulates the story”.
Dawson Carr, curator of Caravaggio Retrospective at the National Gallery, London
Some of Caravaggio’s works of art can be viewed at St. John’s Co Cathedral in Valletta.
Caravaggio masterpieces in Malta

The most famous artist who worked in Malta has to be Caravaggio. His ‘Beheading of St. John the Baptist’, a work once described as ‘the painting of the 17th century’ was commissioned for, and is still on display in, the Oratory of the Co-Cathedral of St. John, Valletta. Another of his most famous works, St. Jerome, is also in the cathedral. Together, these works represent a key period in the development of this unorthodox artist. His style, with its powerful use of shadow and shafts of light (chiaroscuro), created an almost choreographed drama with the subject; a technique which broke with the tradition of religious painting. Caravaggio arrived in Malta in 1607 in rather dubious circumstances having fled Rome to avoid justice. He was wanted for murder. However, in Malta, under his new patrons, he was feted and admitted to the Order of St. John. But his freedom from justice lasted only just over a year. He was imprisoned in Fort St. Angelo and later escaped to Sicily, only to die two years later at the age of 38 still hounded by the forces of justice.

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