Caravaggio - The Roman Period
In the autumn of 2018, the Institut de France and Culturespaces are holding an exhibition in the Musée Jacquemart-André devoted to Caravaggio (1571–1610), a leading figure in seventeenthcentury Italian painting. Ten masterpieces by the artist, included seven which have never been presented in France, will exceptionally be brought together for this unique event in Paris.
The visitors will discover the two Magdalene masterpieces, from private collections, for the first time in the same exhibition.
The masterpieces will be complemented by the works of leading contemporary painters, such as Cavaliere d’Arpino, Annibale Carracci, Orazio Gentileschi, Giovanni Baglione, and José de Ribera, in order to highlight Caravaggio’s innovative genius and the artistic effervescence that reigned in the Eternal City at the time.
An exceptional artist at the heart of the roman artistic period
Born in 1571, Michelangelo Merisi, whose byname was Caravaggio, revolutionised Italian painting in the seventeenth century through the realism of his canvases and his innovative use of chiaroscuro, and became the greatest naturalistic painter of his time. The exhibition will focus on Caravaggio’s Roman period and the artistic circle in which he moved: as the most recent studies have shown, the painter maintained close relations with the contemporary intellectual circles in Rome. The exhibition will therefore look at Caravaggio’s links with the collectors and artists, and also the poets and scholars of his time—links that have never been highlighted in an exhibition.
The exhibition will initially focus on life in Rome at the beginning of the seventeenth century, by looking at the artistic activity in the major workshops, in which Caravaggio began his career. It was during this period that Caravaggio met various figures who were to play a key role in his career: Marchese Giustiniani (1564–1637) and Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte (1549–1627). They became Caravaggio’s foremost patrons and he received many prestigious commissions from them.
After looking at Caravaggio’s friends and supporters, the exhibition will focus on his enemies and rivals who were also part of the art scene in Rome at the time. Caravaggio—the painter did not want other artists to imitate his style, but this did in fact occur—sometimes clashed with his confrères during discussions, lawsuits, and even brawls. His career in Rome ended in 1606, when Caravaggio killed Ranuccio Tomassoni during a heated discussion. Condemned to death after this fatal brawl, Caravaggio fled into exile but his most loyal patrons continued to take an interest in his work.
An exhibition event
The exhibition will present extraordinary canvases from major Italian museums—such as the Galleria Nazionale in Palazzo Barberini, the Galleria Borghese and the Musei Capitolini in Rome, the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, the Musei di Strada Nuova in Genoa, and the Museo Civico Ala Ponzone in Cremona, not to mention the prestigious loan of the Lute Player (1595-1596) from the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, presented in France for the first time.
On the ten Caravaggio gathered, only three have been exhibited in France before: the Supper at Emmaus (1605-1606) in Milan, the Ecce Homo in Genoa and the Saint François in meditation (circa 1606) in Cremona. For the first time in an exhibition, the two versions of the penitent Magdelene, rarely shown to the public, will both be presented in the museum Jacquemart-André.
Ten Caravaggio, complemented by the works of leading contemporary painters, will retrace Caravaggio’s Roman period from 1592 until he fled into exile in 1606.