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SUMMARY Caravaggio A Life Sacred and Profane

Th in suspicious circumstances off the coast of Naples Graham Dixon shows how Caravaggio’s paintings emerged from this extraordinarily wild and troubled life his detailed readings of them explain their originality and Caravaggio’s mentality better than any of his predecesso. I know it s a cliche but facts about this artist s life are so few and far between he is very much like his own paintings emerging briefly every now and then from the dark out into daylightDetails of his early life are particularly sparse which made to me at least the first hundred or so pages of this biography hard going There s plenty about Milan and Rome folk art archbishops and cardinals but nothing substantial about the man himself The result is peculiar like a portrait painting without the portrait all setting but no face Once you get beyond that though Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio does begin to emerge and what a man he is For a start I d forgotten just how far ahead of its time some of his work really was painted in the seventeenth century St John The Baptist say or David With The Head Of Goliath could have been done in the twentiethI was amazed too by his extraordinary life He strode about the seedier parts of town dressed in a cloak and armed with a sword he killed an opponent in a duel although Graham Dixon argues convincingly that this was accidental and may have earned money as a pimp The most astonishing image of all though as unforgettable as any of his pictures is that of the great painter as fugitive on the run in fear of his life fleeing from city to city and everywhere he stopped painting a masterpieceI m glad I didn t lose patience during those first hundred pages because this is as enthralling a biography of Caravaggio or anyone else for that matter as I ve ever read

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Caravaggio A Life Sacred and Profane

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 29 September 1571–18 July 1610 lived probably the darkest and most dangerous life of any of the great painters The worlds of Milan and Rome through which Caravaggio moved and which Andrew Graham Dixon describes brilliantly in this book are th. Wonderful biography Perhaps a life history is a better word as Caravaggio remains an obscure person The only written records available are court records relating to his almost weekly arrests for insult and violent behaviour There are some letters reporting on his whereabouts and letters reuesting the status of commissions granted to him but never a letter from Caravaggio himself or people close to him It was great to have Graham Dixon show us Caravaggio s paintings in great detail and with such sensitivity He sometimes takes an entire chapter to describe a single painting I especially liked his views regarding the exact moment at which Caravaggio chose to depict an action in a story as his moment of choice was considered pretty unconventional and rebellious at that time Further he tells us who the models were where the clothes and props came from how Caravaggio arranges the light and anything else which is of interest when viewing that particular painting We further learn who commissioned the painting whether it survived or was lost and how and where it is presenly located The revealing of a new painting of Caravaggio was much anticipated and people flocked to view it They would often be astonished and sometimes scandalized There were uite a few paintings rejected by churches which commissioned a painting of a particular scene from the bible on the ground that the resulting picture was too sacrilegious as it showed for example Maria with a too deep cleaverige or the apostels as rugged farmers in torn clothes Interestingly enough a few were rejected because Maria or the saints were painted with dirty naked feet These rejected paintings were immediately snapped up by the rich and noble families who all coveted a Caravaggio painting Punky guy as he might have been he was the best painter of the post Renaissance and people stood in awe looking at his workCaravaggio sounds like a maniac patrolling the dark streets of Rome in the small hours of the night sword and dagger at the ready You could say he was always cruising for a bruising The course of his life was dictated by his violence and the unruly company he kept He dies an early death due to injuries inflicted by a vengeful attack It is not surprising that it is unknown who attacked him He stays an obscure person till the endGreatly recommended when you like Caravaggio s workAddendum Oct 21 2019 I just finished Francine Prose s Caravaggio and can recommend her biography as well Francine Prose takes a personal and emotional view on Caravaggio s work than Andrew Graham Dixon plus has some interesting details on his life Her biography is a uick read the size of an essay and has no pictures to illustrate her remarks

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Ose of cardinals and prostitutes prayer and violence Graham Dixon puts the murder of a pimp Ranuccio Tomassoni at the centre of his story It occurred at the height of Caravaggio’s fame in Rome and probably brought about his flight through Malta and Sicily which led to his dea. A spectacular biography in every way imaginable The author carefully puts together the historical record to provide as complete a picture of a complex troubled genius as is possibleMore importantly Graham Dixon illuminates each of Caravaggio s paintings in such clear historical literary and artistic detail that anyone familiar with these paintings will now see them with a depth they have never before experienced I already know that I will come back to it again and again in anticipation of any time I am fortunate enough to view Caravaggio s work in the future In fact as much as I have loved each of Caravaggio s paintings that I have seen in person I now know that I never uite appreciated the beauty and complexity of each The chronology used to describe the paintings the stories behind each work now put each into a context I had never before understood I can t wait to rediscover Caravaggio s art again after reading this bookGraham Dixon does not cover up any of the gritty or tragic details of Caravaggio s life nor does he resort to tabloid sensationalism We meet a very human Caravaggio whose brilliance is neither obscured by his troubled life experiences nor elevated to an idealized sainthoodToo often trite jokes are made about the value of art history I ve been guilty myself of the same thing Graham Dixon s work will eliminate any notion of frivolity about the study of art history This is a serious work that will live for the ages It should become a standard for any professional or amateur student of art history Should others follow in the footsteps set by this example humanity will be better servedThis is a book that will remain with me for the rest of my life If you have ever been touched by a work of art you should read Caravaggio A Life Sacred and Profane Graham Dixon s account will stay with you long after you have finished reading it


10 thoughts on “Caravaggio A Life Sacred and Profane

  1. says:

    Wonderful biography Perhaps 'a life history' is a better word as Caravaggio remains an obscure person The only written records available are c

  2. says:

    A remarkable biography Caravaggio liked to live life in the shadows as reflected in his artwork so the only sources Graham Dixon has to work with for his book are court records from Caravaggio's trouble making and the occasi

  3. says:

    This is a biography of a gifted artist who unfortunately also possessed a proud and difficult personality that got him into freuent trouble with the law Ironically much of what is known about Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 1571–1610 comes to us from the criminal archives that document his freuent arrests and various d

  4. says:

    This review originally appeared at the Washington Independent Review of BooksBeing a tortured rock star is tough in any century Case in point Michaelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio the brilliant brooding bad boy of the 16th century art world whose rise to fame in his early 20s seemed propelled as much by sheer force of will as it was

  5. says:

    The messy story of what happened to Caravaggio's last paintings is also a microcosm of his afterlife and a parable illustrating his singularit

  6. says:

    A spectacular biography in every way imaginable The author carefully puts together the historical record to provide as complete a picture of a complex troubled genius as is possibleMore importantly Graham Dixon illuminates each of Caravaggio's paintings in such clear historical literary and artistic detail that anyone familiar with these pai

  7. says:

    Well written engaging and comprehensive biography of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio the great Italian renaissance painter famous for his dramatic effects of light and shade and intense realism Portrait of Caravaggio by Ottavio LeoniCaravaggio was an intriguing and complex man an impetuous character who kept company with whores and courtes

  8. says:

    I love art history because it seems very interactive to me I often have the painting being discussed pulled up on my phone so while the author describes specific moments and strokes in the painting I can also be studying it in detail When you read a book specifically about one artist if it is any good you will learn new ways to admire and study their paintings and this book was no exception I had always learned about the profane

  9. says:

    I know it's a cliche but facts about this artist's life are so few and far between he is very much like his own paintings emerging briefly every now and then from the dark out into daylightDetails of his early life are particularly sparse which made to me at least the first hundred or so pages of this biography hard going

  10. says:

    ‘Caravaggio’s art is made from darkness and light’Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio born on 29 September 1571 died on 18 July 1610 In between he created magnificent paintings and got himself into a lot of trouble with the law Caravaggio was particularly renowned for his use of chiaroscuro a techniue which uses light and dark to achieve a three dimensional effect Caravaggio received his early training in Milan where he specialised i

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