A large number of beautiful paintings absolutely not to be missed
Considered one of the greatest artists of all times, Michelangelo Merisi, better known as the Caravaggio, has realized in his life a large number of masterpieces that have had a strong influence on Baroque painting. Here is a fascinating itinerary for those who want to discover the most important and famous works of Caravaggio in Rome.
The itinerary starts from the Capitoline Museums, the oldest public museum in the world, founded in 1471 by Sixtus IV. Inside, in the Capitoline Gallery, there are two splendid paintings by Caravaggio: “Saint John the Baptist”, also known as A young man with Lamb, which the artist painted in 1602 for the one of the most visible figures of the Roman society of the time, and “The Good Ventura”, very famous and copied by several Caravaggeschi painters, created by the artist in 1594 for the Cardinal Del Monte. In the nearby Galleria Doria Pamphilj, the most important gallery of private ancient art, you can admire: an identical copy of the “Saint John the Baptist”; “The rest after the escape in Egypt”, one of the masterpieces of the young Caravaggio, and “Maddalena Penitente”, dating from the artist’s first Roman activity. Another version of the “San Giovanni Battista” always by Caravaggio, but very different from the other two, is guarded at the Galleria Corsini in Via della Lungara, near Trastevere.
The itinerary continues with a visit to the small Church of San Luigi dei Francesi near Piazza Navona, a veritable jewel of Baroque art. In the Contarelli chapel, the fifth chapel of the left aisle, there are three masterpieces dedicated to the figure of St. Matthew that the artist realized between the 1599 and the 1602: “The vocation of St. Matthew”, the “Martyrdom of St. Matthew” and “St. Matthew and the Angel”. The three paintings had a great impact making “Caravaggism” the great fashion among the emerging artists. Leaving San Luigi dei Francesi, after a few steps you will find the Church of Sant’Agostino, one of the first Roman Renaissance churches. Inside, in the chapel stands, is preserved one of the most famous masterpieces of Caravaggio, the “Madonna dei Pellegrini” also called “Madonna di Loreto”, which the artist performed in 1604 by order of Ermete Cavalletti.
The next stage is the Galleria Nazionale d’arte Antica in Palazzo Barberini, which gathers works by great masters of Italian and foreign painting, from the 13th to the 18th century. Here you can admire the paintings: “Judith and Holofernes”, which aroused at a particular surprise because of its realism and its crudeness; the “Narcissus”, sublime metaphor on beauty and love; and “St. Francis in meditation”, coming from the Church of St. Peter in Carpineto Romano. The itinerary continues with a visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, one of the most beautiful churches in the centre of Rome. In the Cerasi Chapel, to the left of the main altar, you can admire two masterpieces by Caravaggio: the “Conversion of St. Paul” and the “crucifixion of St. Peter”. The original versions of the two works were rejected and the paintings currently present in the Church were made a second time.
After a walk in the park of Villa Borghese, the itinerary continues in the Galleria Borghese, whose collection was defined the most beautiful in the world. Inside is preserved the most numerous series of paintings of the artist; in fact there are six works of Caravaggio: “Young man with fruit basket”, “Sick Bacchus” (probable self-portrait as Bacchus), “The Madonna of the Palafrenieri”, “St. Jerome”, “Saint John the Baptist” and “David with the head of Goliath”, in which the artist portrays himself in the decapitated face of Goliath. Finally, our itinerary to discover the works of Caravaggio in Rome ends with a visit to the Vatican Museums, where one of the largest art collections in the world is kept. Here is the perhaps most monumental picture of the painter, the “Deposition of Christ”, one of the few works of Caravaggio to have aroused the admiration also of his contemporary critics.