The Caravaggio I remember the most vividly is this huge painting, which I saw while it was on loan to the MNBA in Buenos Aires - in a massive ornate gold frame and against a blood red wall. Caravaggio's dramatic paintings capture the spirit of the Baroque.
1. Drama: Caravaggio's paintings look so dramatic through tenebrism, a technique in which there's a strong beam of light shining through a very dark background (Janson's 663). Closer look: Compare the lightest parts of the painting (Jesus' head and the soldier's arm armor) with the rest of the painting.
2. Average Joe: Caravaggio's paintings show average people doing their thing, that without a religious connotation these characters would seem like totally average people. This made religion seem more accessible to everyday people, an appropriate theme for both Catholics and Protestants alike during the time.
3. Renegade: "Highly argumentative, Caravaggio carried a sword and was often in trouble with the law for fighting. When he killed a friend in a duel over a game, Caravaggio fled Rome and spent the rest of his short live on the run" (Janson's 665).
Bonus: Sonia's Art History professor at Dartmouth made a comparison of Caravaggio's tenebrism and chiarascuro to the dramatic cinematorgraphy in movies like Citizen Kane.
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