Caravaggio Exhibition: The National Gallery

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I went to the members preview of the Caravaggio exhibition on Monday 10th October at The National Gallery – although it was limited admittance it was very full and reviews have suggested it will be the ‘must see’ exhibition of the winter.

There are actually only 7 of his works on show; that said these are worth travelling to see in their own right, particularly ‘The Taking of Christ’ where Judas does not quite kiss Jesus and Caravaggio himself looks on in the background, seemingly both horrified and mesmerised.

The rest of the exhibition focuses on Caravaggio’s influence on other artists – which was profound – in spite of his jealousy and anger when anyone seemed to copy him in his lifetime.


The darkness of his paintings, the horror and violence of the subjects he chose (Judith and Holofernes, The Beheading of John the Baptist, David and Goliath) reflect the darkness and turbulence of his own life.

Caravaggio (1571-1610) had his greatest success in Rome where he was commissioned to paint religious subjects to fill the new Churches and counter the ‘threat’ posed by Protestantism. The naturalism of this paintings – where saints and sinners could be seen as real, living breathing people shocked and thrilled, as they still do today.


With all the court cases, brawls, escapes from goal and trials for murder with which he was embroiled and the shortness of his life, it is amazing that he could achieve everything that he did.

A fine exhibition of someone whose influence is clear and unrivalled and still shocks and involves us today.

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