Culture / Art Republik

Go ‘Beyond Caravaggio’ at London’s National Gallery

The ongoing exhibition ‘Beyond Caravaggio’ at London’s National Gallery explores the curious phenomenon of Caravaggio’s influence on painters across Europe.

Oct 13, 2016 | By Staff Writer

The ongoing exhibition ‘Beyond Caravaggio’ at London’s National Gallery explores the curious phenomenon of Italian grandmaster Caravaggio’s influence on painters across Europe, despite not being particularly prolific nor well traveled. It will explore the artist’s influence on other painters of his time, with a showcase of 49 paintings from museums, stately homes, castles, churches and private collections from Great Britain to Ireland.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571-1610), was one of the most prominent artists of his time, besides having an amazing name (those Italians!) and a colorful life. He is best known for his dramatic use of light and shadow, giving his realist paintings a certain emotional depth. Although the painter wasn’t a mentor to anyone, nor did he travel much in his 39 years, artists from all over Europe adored his works and were heavily influenced by his groundbreaking style. The 1600s saw the increasing renown of Caravaggio’s ‘followers’, namely the works of Orazio Gentileschi, Valentin de Boulogne, Jusepe de Ribera and Gerrit van Honthorst. This group of artists was later dubbed the “Caravaggesque” movement.


Saint Francis of Assisi in ecstasy; Caravaggio

The exhibition starts by a retrospective of Caravaggio’s early years, with the seemingly ordinary subject matters such as young people, musicians, cardsharps and fortune tellers. This era included the painting  “Boy Bitten by a Lizard”, and followed by works by Caravaggesque painters inspired by this part of Caravaggio’s career.

The second part took on Caravaggio’s commissions, mostly religious-themed. This era included “The Supper at Emmaus” and the recently rediscovered “The Taking of Christ” (pictured top). Visitors can compare the works of the influencer and the works of those influenced by him, such as Giovanni Baglione’s “Ecstasy of Saint Francis”. Finally, the showcase explores the artist’s two journeys to Naples, which was part of the Spanish Empire at that time. Here visitors can observe Caravaggio’s influence on Spanish artists.

After London, the exhibition will head to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh in 2017.

“Beyond Caravaggio” runs till January 15, 2017, at the National Gallery, London, UK.

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