Sunday, January 13, 2019
01 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART - Interpretations of the Bible! by The Old Masters, With Footnotes # 47D
Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) (1571–1610 Porto Ercole)
The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, c. 1610
Oil on canvas
Height: 154 cm (60.6 in). Width: 178 cm (70.1 in).
Palazzo Zevallos, Naples
Saint Ursula (Latin for "little female bear") is a Romano-British Christian saint. Because of the lack of definite information about her and the anonymous group of holy virgins who accompanied her and on some uncertain date were killed at Cologne, they were removed from the Roman Martyrology and their commemoration was omitted from the General Roman Calendar when it was revised in 1969.
Her legend, probably not historical, is that she was a princess who, at the request of her father King Dionotus of Dumnonia in south-west Britain, set sail to join her future husband, the pagan governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica, along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens. After a miraculous storm brought them over the sea in a single day to a Gaulish port, Ursula declared that before her marriage she would undertake a pan-European pilgrimage. She headed for Rome with her followers and persuaded the Pope, Cyriacus, and Sulpicius, bishop of Ravenna, to join them. More Saint Ursula
According to legend, Saint Ursula traveled with her eleven thousand virgins to Cologne, where the chief of the Huns besieging the city fell in love with her. When she rejected his advances, he killed her with an arrow. In this depiction, Caravaggio places the two figures improbably close to each other, maximizing the contrast between their expressions: Ursula’s perplexed gaze at the agent of her martyrdom; the tyrant’s conflicted reactions of rage and guilt. Caravaggio includes himself as a spectator, straining for a glimpse, while another figure thrusts his hand forward in an abortive effort to prevent the saint’s execution. The exaggerated contrasts between dark and light seem not merely a dramatic device but a symbolic allusion to sin and redemption, death and life. More on this painting
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (29 September 1571 in Caravaggio – 18 July 1610) was an Italian painter active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily between 1592 and 1610. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on Baroque painting.
Caravaggio trained as a painter in Milan under Simone Peterzano who had himself trained under Titian. In his twenties Caravaggio moved to Rome where there was a demand for paintings to fill the many huge new churches and palazzos being built at the time. It was also a period when the Church was searching for a stylistic alternative to Mannerism in religious. Caravaggio's innovation was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic use of chiaroscuro which came to be known as tenebrism (the shift from light to dark with little intermediate value).
He gained attention in the art scene of Rome in 1600 with the success of his first public commissions, the Martyrdom of Saint Matthew and Calling of Saint Matthew. Thereafter he never lacked commissions or patrons, yet he handled his success poorly. He was jailed on several occasions, vandalized his own apartment, and ultimately had a death sentence pronounced against him by the Pope after killing a young man, possibly unintentionally, on May 29, 1606. He fled from Rome with a price on his head. He was involved in a brawl in Malta in 1608, and another in Naples in 1609. This encounter left him severely injured. A year later, at the age of 38, he died under mysterious circumstances in Porto Ercole in Tuscany, reportedly from a fever while on his way to Rome to receive a pardon.
Famous while he lived, Caravaggio was forgotten almost immediately after his death, and it was only in the 20th century that his importance to the development of Western art was rediscovered. More Caravaggio
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