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The lights of Caravaggio on Bacchus

The research for reality through details. Marcella Farinaro comments the famous painting of one of the most famous artist in the history of art. She emphasizes the red wine goblet

cm 95x85
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
Painted in 1596-1597

Straddling two centuries, Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio from his presume birthplace, is the heir of the sixteenth century painting tradition but, at the same time, he began something new.

Caravaggio faced directly the problem of the men existence, his drama in looking for the truth; an imposition-free truth. The representation of reality is the true foundation of Caravaggio’s painting. A reality so distressing and eye-opening that it can be mistaken for brutal vulgarity.

All the same, Caravaggio’s painting is not just a usual imitation of nature but, on the contrary, Caravaggio can see reality and shows us the meaning of it; he judges it, by extracting and object form another one, a man from another one, even a detail from another. He does than through light, drawing a detail while leaving the rest in the dark.

So, the main theme of his painting is the dramatic reality of the men, which is told through a coherent language of lights and shadows.

The painting Bacco was found in 1916. Besides it is from the youthful of the author, it is perfectly executed; see for example the incredible shape of the young God body, or of the fruit, and in the incredible transparency of the red wine goblet.

The research for reality is here exemplified by many elements, such as, e.g., the mattress the God stands on. It is not a luxurious mattress; it is a trivial striped mattress. In the same way the fruit, that could seems as a prosperity symbol, is in reality rotten and bruise.

According to criticism, this work of art was painted through the “mirror technique” that allows an easier study of lights and of the shadows casted on objects. This ides is supported by the observation of the left hand of the God that he uses for holding the wine goblet.

by Marcella Farinaro
06 july 2009, Food Notes > Miscellanea