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  • ISBN: 9780271013121
  • ISBN10: 0271013125

Caravaggio and His Two Cardinals

by Creighton E. Gilbert

  • List Price: $139.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Pennsylvania State Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 05/01/1995
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This study focuses on three paintings done by Caravaggio for the two Mattei brothers - a cardinal and a marquis who shared the family palace and, for a time, had Caravaggio as a house guest. The Mattei family has been given short shrift in the literature about Caravaggio, which otherwise has rightly devoted great attention to his patrons. This context enriches our understanding of the paintings - the "Pastor Friso", often dubiously said to represent John the Baptist, the Supper at Emmaus in the London National Gallery, and the newly rediscovered Kiss of Judas in Dublin - then implicates wider contexts, including a comparative study of the artist's most famous works, the Matthew cycle in the Contarelli chapel, and his other patrons, specifically Cardinal Del Monte. An examination of these relationships allows valuable insight into the question of Caravaggio's "naturalist style", his peers, and his period. Gilbert devotes separate discussions to the Marquis and to Cardinal Mattei in developing his argument that each of them influenced Caravaggio in different ways. A collector of classical sculpture, the Marquis is connected to the classical mythological themes that are here identified in specific paintings. A study of Cardinal Mattei indicates that he was outstandingly devout, which was true of only a small number of cardinals during the period. Gilbert shows that the artist's two paintings for the Cardinal alter the previous patterns of representing their religious themes, in ways related to Counter-Reformation ideas. Scholars have long searched for the specific religious figure who inspired this quality in Caravaggio's work, resolved here by Gilbert's meticulous scholarship andcarefully drawn connections. In its intellectual approach, Caravaggio and His Two Cardinals is a series of extended essays on diverse topics that involve the politics of Counter-Reformation religion and propaganda; neo-Latin poetry; the social status of homosexuality in the period; dialect speech; and inheritance patterns of works of art in families. Gilbert's thoughtful insights on the theory of a homoerotic aspect in Caravaggio's work alone should provoke spirited scholarly discussion.
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