Death and the Virgin by Chris Skidmore download in pdf, ePub, iPad
Suppressing all anecdotal detail, Caravaggio invests this subdued scene with extraordinary monumentality through the sole presence of these figures and the intensity of their emotions. He also hinted at royal involvement without exploring the idea more. The emotional and physical starkness of the painting is unrelieved. On the other hand, I found his theory very easy to believe. Caravaggio completely abandons the iconography traditionally used to indicate the holiness of the Virgin.
The figures are nearly life-sized. Others shuffle in behind them. Mary lies on a kind of litter, a poor woman, plainly dressed and barefoot, too weak to have crossed her hands in prayer and too worn even to welcome the release of death.
Distancing himself from the precious, affected mannerist vogue, the artist inaugurated a frank, robust, energetic style. The compact mass of the assemblage and the posturing of the figures guide the viewer's eye toward the abandoned body.
He expresses the greater grief of the former not by a more emotive face, but by hiding their faces. Sadly, I have been left underwhelmed by it and wondering what the reviewers were reading. The New Testament does not mention the matter at all. The light, softened by the atmosphere and by the handling of the pigment, fortifies the silent solemnity of the scene. The research is astounding.
The holiness of the Virgin is discerned by her thread-like halo. Surrounding the Virgin are overcome Mary Magdalen and apostles.
Peter, and kneeling at his side is perhaps St. Caravaggio's brutal view, very realistic and virtually devoid of holiness, provoked strong reactions in the public of his time. As it is, I still thought it was pretty great, and definitely a fascinating read.
The sacred character of the figure is evidenced only by a thin halo. The how and who of Amy's death seems plausible, but not the why. The specific inaccuracies I've seen mentioned seem to have been corrected between whatever earlier edition was reviewed and the edition I read.
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