Caravaggio’s disturbing art was a reflection of his life. As a result, “Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane” reads like a historical- swashbuckler-cum-detective-story while also providing an. Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane. Andrew Graham-Dixon; W.W. Norton; pp. Reviewed by Brian Jay Jones; October 4, This scholarly but spirited.

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I could have wished for larger reproductions than the ones squeezed in between the text–but then there is always the Internet, a click away, with ready access to fine images and detail. I came into this book knowing nothing but I now feel I have a good understanding of the man and the times he lived in. He stays an obscure person till the end. While much of his brief time on earth was mired in the darkness that pervades almost all his painting, he is here portrayed as sincere in the spiritual aspiration characterized by the ljfe contrasting light.

The result is a life story fully coherent with the era, one that resoundingly integrates this passionate artist in the colourful, writhing swirl that was Rome and southern Italy at the turn of the 17th century, and lie thereby resolves many of the conflicting tales, settling them naturally and often therefore beautifully into a flowing, tragic tale.

Andrew Graham-Dixon, via numerous reproductions, begs us to look closer at Caravaggio’s work. View all 4 comments. It is obvious that Andrew Graham-Dixon has done a lot of research before writing this book. Christ and his followers looked a lot more like beggars than cardinals.

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon

I’m not always persuaded by this moralising x-ray: He has written a number prrofane acclaimed books, on subjects ranging from medieval painting and sculpture to the art of the present, including Caravaggio: Long and at times hampered by side tracks that might have been cut, the book nevertheless accomplishes what it sets out to do, bring a profanne to life despite the dearth of primary sources. Caravaggio slept in his clothes, always armed, to defend himself in case the authorities came for him.


Inafter Caravaggio stabbed and killed Ranuccio Tomassoni, he flees to Naples intending to return to Rome where friends are lobbying on his behalf via Malta and Sicily. Caravaggio was particularly renowned for his use of chiaroscuro, a technique which uses light and dark to achieve a three dimensional effect.

Here’s the second version of St Matthew and the Angel: His paintings of coy fortune tellers stealing rings off the finger of a mark, or of crooked card players fleecing unsuspecting well-to-do llfe men are almost like snapshots of singular moments in time, telling a complete story in a single image and catching caaravaggio particular event at its most dramatic moment.

The somewhat plodding early chapters about church reform and law made way for a wild action story. Lkfe paints a colorful and lively picture of an eventful historical period, when Inquisition Spain ruled Italy and Catholicism struggled to preserve its temporal and spiritual power against the spread of Protestant theology to the north. The chronology used to describe the paintings—the stories behind each work—now put each into a context I had never before understood.

A fine illustration of what art history is supposed to be – a lovely, well-written study of Caravaggio’s life at the macro and micro levels. In between court carxvaggio, he seems to vanish. His problem is that Caravaggio keeps on disappearing into the kind of murky darkness that he himself painted.

One of the book’s greatest generosities is that it seems to me finally to provide an epitaph that stands a chance of bringing some peace to a much tortured legend. He had always been an outsider, a troublemaker, a difficult and dangerous man.


And then there’s the many crimes, brawls, wounds, punishments and pardons involving everyone from the street gangs caraavaggio the way to the Pope. Caravaggio was more comfortable on the seamy side of the street, for this was his milieu.

Caravaggio: a Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon: review

Caravaggio painted two paintings after being attacked, and they lifee signs of being physically compromised. It could also be a sense to try and make these images become more real to him.

Tomassoni was stabbed in the groin. Moreover, the artists that mocked him set to frantically try to sqcred his style in droves. But there are some fascinating “filler material”: I hope those frail disturbed bones aren’t insulted by being given a Christian reburial. These disagreements aside, Caravaggio: Built to educate the illiterate masses, these scenes contain vivid colors and often gruesome details.

At this point, Graham-Dixon addresses revisionist attempts on Caravaggio’s sexuality. The shifty but almost conclusive fact that Caravaggio might have been a pimp and was most likely sexually attracted to adolescent boys explains why some of the models used for his cupids and for his saintly women were indeed prostitutes and catamites.

I liked the fact that Graham-Dixon explained the findings of other authors about Caravaggio and if there was new evidence on the subject he explained the findings.

I happen to be sympathetic with Caravaggio’s preference to show the followers of Jesus as being plain and poor folk. Sacrsd all 6 comments. There is though plenty of incident as well as artistic analysis.

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