Caravaggio did not paint much in his life. Because life often took precedence over art. And yet, many artworks over the centuries have been attributed to Michelangelo Merisi. For some too many, for others simply dubious attributions.
Caravaggio, “Giuditta nell’atto di tagliare la testa ad Oloferne”, 1597. Roma, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Palazzo Barberini S.S.P.A.A. Polo Museale della Città di Roma
The exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale will present the public with only those artworks that are certainly by Caravaggio, the sum of the indisputable master. A roundup of extraordinary paintings, because technique, vision and innovation in the art of Caravaggio are extraordinary, because nobody before and after him was able to “give light to darkness.” Exhibition opens 18 February, 2010.
The exhibition is under the patronage of the President of the Italian Republic, organized by the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo in collaboration with MondoMostre, in cooperation with the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita’ Culturali and the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale di Roma, with the support of Cariparma.
The entire career of Caravaggio will be represented in the two exhibition floors of the Scuderie del Quirinale and its presentation, rather than in chronological order will try to enhance the comparison of themes and subjects alike. So next to the “Boy with a Fruit Basket”, one of the most important early works, you’ll see the Bacchus from the Uffizi, where Caravaggio painted another sublime still life, two works that were never placed in direct comparison.
This direct comparison between subjects will be the common thread of the exhibition, and will include the great altarpieces from the Roman period and those painted in Sicily, including the “Burial of St Lucia”, that Caravaggio painted in articulo mortis, the high point of his tragic existential parable.
Next to very well known and very visible works – like the two versions of the “Supper at Emmaus”, respectively, from the National Gallery in London and the Pinacoteca di Brera, or the “Musicians” from the Metropolitan Museum in New York, or the Boy with Lute from the State Hermitage in St Petersburg and Amor Omnia Vincit from the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin or the three versions of “Saint John the Baptist”, respectively, from the Capitoline Museums, the Galleria Corsini in Rome, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City – others Caravaggio works are more rare and difficult to view, because they are rarely granted for temporary exhibitions as the “Deposition” from the Vatican Museums, the “Annunciation” by the Museum of Nancy, restored for the occasion in a joint project between Italy and France or even the “Crowning of Thorns” from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
A selection made only of absolute masterpieces, historically credited as by the hand of Caravaggio and never seen together, reunited at the Scuderie del Quirinale, to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the death of Michelangelo Merisi.
During that same time, Rome will become the ideal location of the near-complete anthology of works by Caravaggio: the vast majority of the works chosen for exhibition comes from museums outside the city to allow the public to admire the works in situ, in the various churches for which they were commissioned, therefore gathering in Rome almost all of the artistic production of Caravaggio.
From the standpoint of scientific studies, the exhibition, created by Claudio Strinati and curated by Rossella Vodret, Soprintendente Speciale per il Polo Museale Romano, and Francesco Buranelli, intends to deal with the wealth of philological, documentary and technical writings produced in the past twenty years.