This tour features a 3-hour guided walking tour of Caravaggio's masterpieces in Rome. Caravaggio, byname of Michelangelo Merisi, was an Italian painter whose revolutionary technique of tenebrism, or dramatic, selective illumination of form out of deep shadow, became a hallmark of Baroque painting. Scorning the traditional idealized interpretation of religious subjects, he took his models from the streets and painted them realistically.
We will start our visit at the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo also known as the artists' church for the numerous artists who worked here: Raphael, Carracci, Pinturicchio,Caravaggio and Bernini. In 1600, Caravaggio was commissioned to paint two pictures of Rome's Patron Saints (Peter and Paul) for the Cerasi Chapel in newly redecorated church. Of the two the more remarkable is the representation of the moment of St Paul's conversion. The image is powerful in its simplicity of design which was not typical of painting at the time. Usually paintings were crowded with many figures, here the message has a greater impact. Caravaggio shows the moment in time when the Roman soldier Saul, hears the voice of God and is knocked down from his horse before his conversion. This was criticized for focusing on “the ass of a horse" in a holy painting, but with St. Paul falling towards the viewer and breaking the perceived space of the painting, it is a groundbreaking work of art and another way the artist connects the viewer to the image. The other painting here is The Crucifixion of St Peter. Three shady characters, their faces hidden or turned away, are pulling, dragging and pushing the cross to which Peter has been nailed by the feet with his head down. Saint Peter is depicted as a husky old man, hardly worn by age, calm, stern, resolute, a rock of faith on which the Church could be founded and would be secure.
Next stop will be the church of S. Luigi dei Francesi,where Caravaggio earned his first job in Rome thanks to his patron cardinal del Monte. He was offered to paint the lateral walls of the Cappella Contarelli and he made The Calling of Saint Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. Caravaggio's solution to decorating a typically gloomy Roman church interior was revolutionary and brilliant. Visitors to the Contarelli Chapel today are confronted with paintings that use the gloom instead of fighting against it. The paintings themselves are dark - mostly shadow - gaining in drama, as the highlighted figures of saints and executioners leap out of the enveloping dark. Caravaggio also considered the lighting in the chapel: each of the two side paintings is lit by a beam of light coming from the same direction as the natural lighting in the chapel itself.
Our last stop will be the Church of S. Agostino. In 1603 Caravaggio was offered to paint the Cavalletti Chapel. By the end of 1604, The Madonna of Loreto or Pilgrim's Madonna was installed in the chapel, where it has been ever since. It depicts the apparition of the barefoot virgin and naked child to two peasants on a pilgrimage. The scene is a moment where everyday common man encounters the divine, whose appearance is also not unlike that of any Roman mother and child. Caravaggio generated considerable controversy with this painting because some have seen in this Madonna the latest woman in his life Lena or Maddalena, over whom he had a fight and had to escape from Rome.
- St Paul's Conversion
- The Crucifixion of St Peter
- The Calling of Saint Matthew
- The Martyrdom of St Matthew
- The Inspiration of Saint Matthew
- Pilgrim's Madonna
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- Please dress respectfully when visiting religious monuments; local custom requires covering knees and shoulder.
- Comfortable walking shoes recommended.
- The tour sequence may be altered to avoid congestions but always covering mentioned sights.
- Keep an eye on your wallet and purses at all time. Do not wear jewelry or carry large amount of cash.
- Professional licensed tour guide
- Admission fees if any
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