Learn About Caravaggio in Art History, View His Art and Famous Paintings
"Deposition”, Caravaggio, 1602-4
Michelangelo Mersi known as Caravaggio, 1571-1610, one of Italy's famous artists in art history painted on canvas
viewing a live
model whenever he was able to get one. He painted ordinary people he knew, in
the world he lived in.
He painted one of his famous paintings "The Calling of St.
Matthew", in 1599-1602.
calling of Saint Matthew is a religious theme he rendered using ordinary
people. This is rather unusual in the history of religious art.
His style is quite different here from the monumental, heroic, and
figures of the Renaissance. Matthew, a tax collector, is sitting at a tavern with his
and armed guards. Although the painting has a contemporary every day peasant character
about it, Caravaggio uses an up-close low level art composition similar to one used by
Leonardo da Vinci in the "Last Supper", 1495-98.
The figures in both Leonardo's and Mersi's paintings are placed all
along a low
level frontal plane. Mersi uses Leonardo's technique of light into dark for
The highlighted areas and colors are so high in the figure grouping of
his friends that we really don't notice two people that have come into the
one of whom is Jesus Christ. Christ's halo is barely seen. If it weren't for
balance technique of highlighted clothing, and the lighted face
other figure, we probably wouldn't know, at first glance, it is a religious theme.
We wouldn’t even recognize one of the figures as
being Jesus Christ.
The compositional setting of "The Calling of St. Matthew" isn't what people of the
used to. Caravaggio secularizes this religious theme and plays out the drama in an
peasant tavern. The characters of his art are modern day low-life people one might see in the street
Another of his famous paintings is "Conversion
of St. Paul", painted in 1600-01.
theme of the painting is Paul, a Roman Pharisee, being converted to Christianity
loud voice and bright light from Heaven (Acts 9: 3-9).
Here again, as in the artwork "The Calling of St. Matthew", we don't immediately know an
extraordinary religious event is taking place. Paul has fallen down shielding his
while his bodyguard is fending off other figures and a frightened horse using a
The religious art theme takes place in an ordinary life setting and Caravaggio
using peasant, rather low-life weather beaten face personalities. The artistic
composition of the painting rotates in a balanced oval, circle-like fashion using
highlighted areas blended into a dark background. This technique is similar to the way
Bruegel painted the highlights in one his famous paintings in art history, "Peasant Wedding", 1565, and the way Gruenwald
painted his light and dark highlights, in "The Crucifixion", 1510-15. Other famous artists of the Baroque period are Frans Hals and Rembrant.
To view the entire gallery of Caravaggio paintings, click here.
Click on the graphics below to increase graphic sizes. At the same you time can also view an opportunity to purchase a poster or painting reproduction.