Crucifixion of St. Peter, Caravaggio: Interpretation, Analysis 3 621Раздел в процессе наполнения и корректировки
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Crucifixion of Saint Peter (1601) by Caravaggio Interpretation of Baroque History Painting MAIN A-Z INDEX
The Crucifixion of St. PeterBy Caravaggio.Considered to be one of theGreatest Paintings Ever.
ContentsDescription • Interpretation • Explanation of Other Paintings by Caravaggio
Description Name : The Crucifixion of St. Peter (1601) Artist : Caravaggio (1571-1610) Medium : Oil painting Genre : History painting Movement : Italian Baroque art Location : Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome
For an explanation of other important pictures from the Baroque era, see: Famous Paintings Analyzed (1250-1800).
UNDERSTANDING ARTFor analysis of pictures byBaroque artistslike Caravaggio, seeour educational articles:Art Evaluation andHow to Appreciate Paintings.
Caravaggio, one of the best artists of all time, is best-known for his naturalistic style of Baroque painting which supplanted Mannerism and revolutionized large scale religious art in Rome, and later Naples. Although a violent, unsavoury individual, who was shunned as a person by many of his contemporaries, he remains one of the most influential Italian Baroque artists of the 17th century. His first major breakthrough occurred in 1599 when he was commissioned to produce two religious paintings for the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. These two pictures, focusing on scenes from the life of Saint Matthew, were an immediate sensation and led to the commissions in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo for The Crucifixion of St Peter (1601) and The Conversion on the Way to Damascus (1601). These four masterpieces established Caravaggio as one of the best history painters in Rome, and the city’s leading exponent of Catholic Counter-Reformation art, designed specifically to inspire the masses rather than the cognoscenti. But some church authorities viewed his Biblical art as impious and vulgar, and refused to accept it. His Death of the Virgin (c.1601-6, Louvre, Paris), for instance, was rejected on account of the Virgin Mary’s rather ugly appearance. For more about Caravaggio and the competing styles of the early Italian Baroque, see: Classicism and Naturalism in 17th Century Italian Painting (1600-1700). For his impact on Neapolitan artists, please see: Caravaggio in Visits to Naples (1607-10) and the Neapolitan School of Painting (1600-56).
The Crucifixion of Saint Peter (Crocifissione di san Pietro) hangs opposite its sister painting Conversion on the way to Damascus (1601) – also painted by Caravaggio – in the Cerasi Chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. Saint Peter and Saint Paul are often closely associated with one another because they were seen as joint founders of the Christian Church. Decorating the altar between the two pictures, but overshadowed by them, is the altarpiece Assumption of the Virgin Mary (1601) by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609). The dome of the chapel is decorated with fresco painting designed by Caravaggio but executed by one of his apprentices.
The Crocifissione di san Pietro portrays the martyrdom of St. Peter. Note that Peter insisted that he be crucified upside-down, so as not to imitate Jesus Christ.
As usual, Caravaggio has stripped the painting of all unnecessary items and, like the Conversion on the way to Damascus, has created an almost completely dark background so as to focus all attention on the plight of St Peter. In addition, note the exceptional naturalism deployed, which is based on the artist’s observation of ordinary people going about their daily business, rather than well-worn studio conventions. Look carefully at the four figures in the picture and see how Caravaggio uses chiaroscuro to make his figures more three-dimensional. Another hallmark of Caravaggism was the use of strong contrasts of light and dark to produce intense drama. Known as tenebrism, this technique allowed Caravaggio to dramatize certain areas of the painting.
This Caravaggist crucifixion was never going to be easy. Caravaggio’s revolutionary style of earthy realism would not tolerate such a thing. Instead, we see three middle-aged Romans, their faces shielded, struggling to erect the cross bearing the weight of the elderly but still muscular Peter. It is as if their crime already weighs on them.