Posted on May 23, 2019


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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Bones in the caravzggio contained high lead levels which is probably related to the paints used at the time which contained high amounts of lead salts. If you’re a fan of Caravaggio or of art in the s and early s, I highly recommend this book to you.

The book creates a more subtle, complex, and persuasively human portrait of a man too often reduced in the past to the caricature of the bad boy artist—violent, promiscuous, rebellious and anti-social.

A night prowler, he dressed in dark colours to dramatise his saturnine temperament and to camouflage himself in the urban shadows when he went out to carouse and copulate.

Even the Virgin herself would be modeled after one of the whores that kept him company. An excellent, thoroughly researched and compelling biography of an artist that has become one of my favorites.

Caravaggio | W. W. Norton & Company

There is an early copy in the church of the Oratory cagavaggio the Confraternity of Conscente, in Liguria, which was a fief of the Costa dynasty. Perhaps he is offended by the spectacle of Nigel Terry’s grungily dressed Caravaggio, who talks in London street slang, hangs out in blearily lit bars, and enviably commutes peofane the beds of Tilda Swinton and Sean Bean.

The story at the time was that it resulted from an argument about a tennis game. The book is well written and keeps one interested throughout the book.

He was imprisoned in Malta for rowdy behavior and made a miraculous escape, the details of which are unknown.

For a start, I’d forgotten just how far ahead of its time some of his work really was: Refresh and try again. While the book does have copies of many of the paintings discussed it is perhaps advisable to g A difficult subject to write about as seemingly there are only secondary sources to rely upon–it’s too bad Caravaggio didn’t have a Theo.


Given the elusiveness of information, this is less a biography than a critical study that searches for traces of Caravaggio in the milieux, both churchy and raunchy, which he frequented. Li aveva dipinti, mettendo saacred scena le storie della Bibbia con i loro corpi e i loro volti. While much of his caravafgio time on earth daravaggio mired in the darkness that pervades almost all his painting, he is here portrayed as sincere in pgofane spiritual aspiration characterized by the sharply contrasting light.

His carnivalesque rampages — which included stabbing a critic in the back, and wounding the face of a surly waiter by hurling a plate at him — are always repressed when the season of fleshly denial begins, which makes Graham-Dixon call his art “intensely ascetic”. His death was caused in part as a result of sacerd received in a revenge attack by unknown assailants.

Imagine, rap music is actually about years old.

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane | Book review | Art and design | The Guardian

But Caravaggio could not stay out of trouble and, not long afterwards, there was an altercation with a Knight Justice which led to Caravaggio being slung into jail. Graham-Dixon not only covers the life of Caravaggio but also provides the history of the catholic church and Italy during the life of the painter.

His early works have bright backgrounds and depict emotive children, subtle variations on the still life, or even acts of sin like gambling, topics which attracted the interest of wealthy patrons. He spent much of his time evading the law; it’s lucky for Graham-Dixon that he was frequently arrested and put on trial for petty brawls, since most of the documentary evidence about him comes from criminal archives.

But perhaps most importantly to would-be scholars and historians is that Graham-Dixon does nothing to hide the labor of pouring through the very intricate legal records left behind by the Church and Rome. Still, most of Carvaggio’s life remains a mystery. The book oscillates between expert analysis of each of Caravaggio’s most famous paintings and the historical contexts in which they were created with details on the artist’s turbulent life and his mercurial and violent character.


Caravaggio painted two paintings after being attacked, and they show signs of being physically compromised.

While I know that a This book had the common flaws of biographies about people of whom little is known–speculation, filler and over-focus on their works when they are artists and writers. I especially liked his views regarding the exact moment at which Caravaggio chose to depict an action in a story, as his moment of choice was considered pretty unconventional and rebellious at that time. We meet a very human Caravaggio whose brilliance is neither obscured by his troubled life experiences nor elevated to an idealized sainthood.

Next stop, the teeming, iniquitous backstreets of Naples; then, after more troubles, the island fortress of Malta, where he managed to parlay his talent as a painter into a hospitaller knighthood, only to be stripped of the honor weeks later for having defied the rules of the ancient Order of St.

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

We further learn caeavaggio commissioned the painting, whether it survived or was lost and how and where it is presenly located. Sep 09, Jean rated it it was amazing Shelves: And as I looked closer at other paintings, there were some elements not explained, and I want to know even more about Caravaggio’s work. While the book does have copies of many of the paintings discussed it is perhaps advisable to go online and have ready access to the paintings discussed so you get full value out of the points the author is attempting to make.

But he also spent a great deal of time, as Andrew Graham-Dixon brilliantly documents, frequenting the bordellos of Rome and making friends with prostitutes, whom he also used as models. Graham-Dixon gives little credence to the lurid traditional tales, and at best will concede only liife he might have been “omnisexual”.

The only written records available are court records, relating to his almost weekly arrests for insult and violent behaviour. A Life Sacred saceed Profane, Art: