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After 400 Years, Caravaggio Is Once Again Emperor of Rome

When he died somewhere on the Tuscan coast in 1610, 38-year-old painter and provocateurMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio had already brushed the heights of contemporary artistic fame, struggled through rejection by Roman patrons, fled the law after committing murder, and perhaps found his way back into the aristocracy’s good graces. Somewhere between this talented troublemaker’s first and second acts, death snatched him away and his life and work began to recede in the memories of Romans and art critics alike. But through the vagaries of history and 400 years after his mysterious death, Caravaggio is now more famous and beloved than he ever was in life—an exile who is once again the toast of Rome and the art world beyond.

Naturally, we just have to mention that our forthcoming title, “Art + Travel Europe: Step into the Lives of Five Famous Painters”, offers a unique, unequaled walking history of his life—a tour of the palaces he frequented, the dark, seedy districts he reveled in, the chapels and museums that house his greatest works, and the streets where he found his rough muses. Of course, those locations and the other side attractions detailed in “Art + Travel” aren’t going anywhere soon—but a Caravaggio exhibition timed for the 400th anniversary of his death is and we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we didn’t offer you a handy guide.
No less an authority than the New York Times has stated that, “Michelangelo’s unofficial 500-year run at the top of the Italian art charts has ended,” suggesting that it’s Caravaggio who now reigns as Rome’s #1 artist. Time will no doubt have the final word on that, but at the Scuderie Del Quirinale in Rome, it’s not the painter of the Sistine Chapel who has them lined up around the block—it’s the exhibition “Caravaggio” that has the museum extending its opening hours. By far the most comprehensive of all exhibitions on the artist this year, the Quirinale’s show features all-time “hits” like “Bacchus”, “Rest on the Flight into Egypt”, “David with the Head of Goliath”, and many, many more. Many of the works, “Rest on the Flight…” included are so valuable and needed at other exhibitions around the world that their placement all in one gallery was both difficult to negotiate and possible for only a brief period of time. Though “Caravaggio” is slated to run through June 10th, “Rest on the Flight…”, “Bacchus”, and several others will be leaving the exhibition well before then—some at the end of this month! While it’s been centuries since Caravaggio enjoyed such favor in Rome, if ever, the rare collection of his greatest works in one place will last only a few weeks more. We suggest you grab your copy of “Art + Travel”, your passport, and make way to Rome with all due haste.
Now through June 10, 2010 (some works will be leaving throughout the course of the exhibition)
Scuderie Del Quirinale
16 Via 24 Maggio
Rome, Italy
+39 06-399-67500
Top (left to right): A patron taking a picture of “Annunciation” on display at the Scuderie Del Quirinale, Caravaggio, c. 1608, courtesy of Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy, photo by Andrew Testa for the New York Times, “Bacchus”, Caravaggio, c.1595, courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery.
Bottom (clockwise from upper left): Patrons line up outside the Scuderie Del Quirinale, photo by Maurizio Brambatti for The Los Angeles Times, “The Lute Player”, Caravaggio, c. 1596, courtesy of the Wildenstein Collection, “The Sacrifice of Isaac”, Caravaggio, c. 1598, courtesy of the Piasecka-Johnson Collection, “Rest on the Flight into Egypt”, c. 1597, courtesy of the Doria Pamphilj Gallery.

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