I had been to lectures in the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery on upcoming exhibitions but it wasn’t until I looked through their Spring What’s On that I discovered these brilliant lectures on the History of Art. I’d unfortunately missed the first two modules but the first on of this term’s module 3 was fantastic. The tutor, Lucrezia Walker, first pointed out the main differences between the rather static, formal Renaissance art and that of the Baroque period using Bernini’s sculptures as illustrations.
She then went on to discuss Caravaggio’s work in depth – his time in Rome, his flight to Naples and then on to Malta only to die while attempting to return to Italy.
I’m not sure what I expected from his self portrait – perhaps more of a bully0boy in keeping with his reputation as a brawler and out-spoken difficult man. I hadn’t realised that at the time some of his works were considered too sacrilegious and that he had to repaint them.
He certainly admired young boys, whether only as models for him, and painted them as luscious objects. His meticulous baskets of fruit are tongue-in-cheek with evidence of decay and dissolution for the close observer.