The Art Institute of Chicago digs into the dramatic legacy of Caravaggio with a new exhibition of the influential painter’s works, Among Friends and Rivals: Caravaggio in Rome.
Known for his arresting style and compelling, dramatic use of light and dark (not to mention his over-the-top persona), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio—aka simply “Caravaggio”—was a great inspiration to many of his passionate followers during his short career. Now, the Art Institute of Chicago brings several of the painter’s works together with those of his acolytes in a stunning new exhibition curated by Rebecca Long, the museum’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Associate Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe. Here, Long gives Michigan Avenue the inside scoop on several of the exhibition’s highlights. Sept. 8-Dec. 31, 111 S. Michigan Ave.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, “Martha and Mary Magdalene” (about 1598), Detroit Institute of Arts, gift of the Kresge Foundation and Mrs. Edsel B. Ford
“Caravaggio helped to popularize the genre of half-length religious paintings like this one, made for private collectors rather than for public church settings. This painting showcases one of his greatest innovations, depicting biblical characters as if they belonged to contemporary Roman society, based on real studio models and dressed in 17th-century attire.”
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, “The Cardsharps” (about 1595), Kimbell Art M Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
“In this painting, Caravaggio brings the observer into the action, a quality that captivated collectors and artists alike. The viewer becomes a participant in the act of deception, able to read the clues that the duped character overlooks and witness the cardsharps’ sleights of hand.”
Giovanni Baglione, “The Ecstasy of Saint Francis” (1601), bequest of Suzette Morton Davidson
“Baglione was probably the first artist in Rome to be directly inspired by Caravaggio’s paintings. His relationship with Caravaggio soured, though, after he received a commission that placed the two artists in competition, which eventually led to a libel trial over rude poems that Caravaggio was accused of distributing.”
Francesco Buoneri (called Cecco del Caravaggi), “The Resurrection” (about 1619–20), Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection
“He was one of Caravaggio’s closest followers, and he probably assisted and modeled Caravaggio during his last years in Rome, which was a personal connection that led to his nickname Cecco (short for Francesco) del Caravaggio.”
Bartolomeo Manfredi, “Cupid Chastised” (1613), Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection
“Manfredi’s early career involved producing copies of paintings by Caravaggio, including a painting of this same subject. Because he knew Caravaggio’s works so well, he was able to carry the style forward, which one can see here in the way he casts studio models in mythological roles, and also in the dramatic contrast of light and shadow.”