Firstly I hope you’re all keeping well during these challenging times. There’ve been numerous articles in the media relating to art in times of crisis, with many finding solace in art, and indeed unleashing their creative side! Also, many of the world’s leading museums and art galleries are offering virtual tours so you don’t have to miss out during lockdown, and can gallery hop from the comfort of your sofa! These include the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, both in Amsterdam, Le Musee du Louvre and Musee d’Orsay in Paris, The British Museum, The Natural History Museum, Tate Britain, The National Gallery, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Vatican City’s The Musei Vaticani. Your local high street galleries also have websites, where you can peruse what’s on offer at your leisure.
Having to spend so much time at home is at least enabling me to carry on working with a vengeance! There is one artist in particular that is keeping me busy: Caravaggio and his most admired alter piece The Entombment.
I’ve spoken many times about my adoration for Caravaggio, the notorious ‘evil genius’ whom is widely considered the greatest of all Italian Baroque artists.
To begin the study of this painting I’ve been asking my friend and fellow Caravaggio enthusiast and author of ‘The Lost Caravaggio’, David Forrest, (@lostcaravaggio) about this masterpiece. He explained: “There is no exact dating for this painting, but a three-year window in which Caravaggio was commissioned and when the painting was first recorded as hung. Though he worked fast, the reason why many people would call this his masterpiece is because he may well have taken his time with it. To the lay person’s gaze, Entombment looks and feels the same as a regular masterpiece. At a technical level, however, with Caravaggio taking his time over it, perhaps starting it and then going away to paint another project, may explain the over large Christ figure, and the early start to the painting would explain the presence of Fillide Melandroni at the back.” Forrest continues that. for him, the hidden meaning in the painting is displacement, characterised by the awkward fingers, the awkward placement of feet at the back, the huge dirty feet at the front, and the randomly placed and sized audience. Further on the subject of displacement, the painting isn’t even in its intended home, the church at Valicella, but in the Vatican. Entombment is like the awkward sister to the gorgeous curve of Michelangelo’s Pieta, the jarring differences making this painting so special.
Forrest has given me a great insight into the painting, enabling me to better undertake such a mighty challenge.
I’ll keep you updated on progress, but in the meantime stay focused on positivity. Here’s to things returning to normal sooner rather than later, until then keep safe and well.