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1. Caravaggio: The Complete Paintings
2. Caravaggio, 1571-1610 (Taschen
3. Discovering Caravaggio: The Art
4. The Lost Painting: The Quest for
5. Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles
6. Caravaggio
7. Caravaggio Studies
8. M : The Man Who Became Caravaggio
9. Caravaggio (25)
10. The Lives of Caravaggio (Lives
11. Caravaggio
12. Caravaggio (Rizzoli Art Classics)
13. Caravaggio (Bfi Modern Classics)
14. Vittorio Sgarbi's Caravaggio
15. Caravaggio: A Passionate Life
16. Caravaggio (Icon Editions)
17. Masters of Art: Caravaggio (Masters
18. Caravaggio: Colour Library
19. Caravaggio: A Life
20. Caravaggio's Death of the Virgin

1. Caravaggio: The Complete Paintings
by Sebastian Schutze
Hardcover: 306 Pages (2009-12-01)
list price: US$150.00 -- used & new: US$94.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 383650183X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Caravaggio, or more accurately Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Milan 1571 Porto Ercole 1610), was a legend even in his own lifetime. Celebrated by some for his naturalism and his revolutionary pictorial inventions, he was considered by others to have destroyed painting. Few other artists have attracted such controversial and contradictory interpretations right up to modern times and to the latest art historical research.

The book offers a comprehensive new examination of the whole of Caravaggio s uvre with a catalogue raisonée of his works. Five introductory chapters analyse his artistic career from his training in Lombard Milan and his triumphal rise in papal Rome up to his dramatic final years in Naples, Malta and Sicily. The spotlight thereby falls upon the radical nature and innovative force of his art and its influence in all of Europe.

Our understanding of Caravaggio s work has been substantially broadened in recent decades by major exhibitions, restoration campaigns, new attributions and archival discoveries. The new catalogue raisonée offers a detailed overview of Caravaggio s entire uvre on the basis of the latest research. All the paintings are documented in large-scale reproductions and spectacular detail illustrations that set new standards in their scope and quality. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Caravaggio book
This is the highest quality book I have seen.It is worth every penny I paid for it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Caravaggio:The Complete Paintings (Sebastian Schutze)
As a source on the histroy of Caravaggio, the man and the artist, I found this book to be quite brief but as good as most of the other literature I have read on the same subject (Caravaggio is rather an elusive subject at the best of times!), but as a source used to view his paintings, this is an excellent book.It contains detailed pictures of all his paintings which are wonderfully clear and beautifully taken.For anyone interested in Caravaggio's paintings and technique, this book is invaluable.

5-0 out of 5 stars luxurious Caravaggio representation
On the basis of the reviews critical of the reproduction quality of this book, I elected to avoid its purchase. Hoping for a good representation of Caravaggio's paintings I acquired the Skira catalog of the recent Rome exhibition. That book is much smaller in dimension and the articles are of varying quality. I subsequently happened to examine a friend's copy of this Taschen edition. While the colors of the reproductions in both books appeared similar, the size, layout and quality of the illustrations in the Taschen issue is vastly superior and far more satisfying. This book also is much more comprehensive in presenting Caravaggio's entire oeuvre and works of uncertain attribution.

I have now ordered the Taschen book which, despite its greater cost, is the best Caravaggio book I have encountered and is good value given the excellence of the printing. It is a while since I have had the good fortune to personally examine a Caravaggio painting and cannot guarantee the accuracy of the reproductions. What I did see has given enormous pleasure. While this is a book that one will want especially for the illustrations, the text is worthwhile and informative.

Few would deny the objective of high-end advertizing is to persuade people that to maintain or improve their status they must buy expensive stuff they don't really need. If this appeal to one-upmanship is restricted to the purchase of designer perfumes and $400 handbags one need only shrug one's shoulders and say where's the harm in that?

But when similar tactics are applied to selling gargantuan art books there are those of us who have no choice but to ask what is going on here?How can it be so many people can be persuaded to pay $150 for an 18" tall, 10 lb. monograph containing hundreds of inaccurate reproductions of EVERY painting by an artist they've probably only vaguely heard about?One whose main claim to fame was a preference for plebian facial features and, as he grew older, overusing chiaroscuro effects to the point where his later religious paintings are so morbid the only adjective that applies is repulsive.

If this verdict offends those who also praised Abbeville's equally unacceptable Caravaggio opus I would hope they realize although Amazon generously allow everyone to express "opinions" those who live by the sword can also die by the sword. Any 5-Star review using words like "gorgeous, magnificent, beautiful, sumptuous, almost perfect, outstanding color, utterly convincing color, one of the best art books I've ever seen" about a monograph devoted to a painter who used less primary colours than any great artist who ever lived has to be taken with a grain of salt.Caravaggio might well be indignant too. Creating beauty was never his first priority.

But it's a much more serious matter when a reviewer misleads potential buyers about one huge flaw making this project an exercise in futility right from the word go.I quote - "occasionally a razor thin line or thread is visible in the center of a spread".Au contraire! To hold this huge book together Taschen had to use extra strong white threads.Hence every double-page black reproduction is lacerated by vertical white stripes.A huge insult to all those who trusted this famous publishing company would present them with "The Very Best of Caravaggio".

Regarding the issue of "Too Dark" 2 other reviewers have covered this subject perfectly. And I'm happy to confirm Taschen achieved a dubious "first" in the realm of innacurate reproductions.Their printing presses's enlarged details are a different colour to their full page reproductions - and their supposedly helpful 3" reference plates appear to come from an entirely different batch of photos.

The key painting I did want to see was Caravaggio's chef-d'oeuvre in the Uffizi - "Bacchus".With a traditional Renaissance colour spectrum I'd have thought Taschen couldn't possibly spoil this reproduction - but of course they did.Rather than go into details I'm uploading 2 "Bacchus's" from two 50-year old Italian books.Enabling those who own this 2010 opus to check-out some disturbing differences - and perhaps understand why publishing this baroque master's rather gloomy art at such an enormous scale came as an unpleasant shock for those of us who know many of his paintings "off by heart".

Thankfully disagreeing with those who are convinced otherwise does not present an Orwellian impasse.Having never thrown away any postcard or books since the 60's (thanks to Amazon's amazing technology) it's possible to upload indisputable proof as to where "the truth" lies regarding the limitations of modern printing presses. The colours may not be perfect but in the good old days reproductions never had large areas of black ink obscuring a painter's lighter vitally important details.Nor, except for a few very rich bibliophiles were books purposely designed to be so heavy and large they must be placed on a table to look at the contents.I'm still waiting for one review which explains why this was a good idea.

However, for all those who'd like to enjoy more of "the real Caravaggio" after a major search I did find one medium-size 2007 paperback with reasonably accurate reproductions.Published by Skira and sold on Amazon for $24.95.It's also well worth visiting Skira's website to view a slideshow of their new Caravaggio book coming out in September

3-0 out of 5 stars Too Dark is right!
I just returned from a 2 1/2 week trip to Italy during which time I visited Uffizi, Borghese, San Luigi dei Francesi, Santa Maria del Popolo, Pitti Palace, Pinoteca Capitolina, and the Scuderie dei Quirinale CARAVAGGIO exhibition.So I have personally viewed nearly half of Caravaggio's authenticated works within the past month.And, to confirm the writings of some of the other reviewers, many of the reproduction plates in this book are inaccurately dark.I was disappointed with the cave-like lighting provided at the Quirinale show, but even those tiny halogen bulbs illuminated more of the subtleties of M. Merisi's work than do the reproductions in this book, which was proudly announced as being full of new - and supposedly properly exposed - photographs.

One great mystery lies in the fact that where there are multiple representations of the same work, the brightness levels vary - sometimes greatly - from one photo to the next.In nearly all cases the detail plates (which are full-bleed) are brighter and more accurate than the full-size shots.The smaller photos displaying the Cantarelli Chapel at San Luigi more faithfully reproduce the colors of the St. Matthew trilogy than do the dedicated full-page plates.I have little technical knowledge of the printing process, but it seems to me that those who do this for a living (especially at this book's price-point!) would know how to calibrate their devices, publishing software and inks to produce a finished product of consistent tone and luminance.

A couple of other quibbles:

1.The book is divided into two major sections:The first, on heavy glossy stock, combines the more 'free-form' essays which put Caravaggio's paintings into context with his life, his contemporaries, and his influences, with the full-size and detail plates accompanied by smaller reproductions of mentioned works by other artists.But as you read, the plates run farther and farther ahead of the text, so the words on page 115 might describe a work reproduced on page 138.Considering the amount of blank space on some of the pages, the design team at Taschen might have considered a layout whereby the reader could view the plate and read the relevant text without sticking multiple fingers of both hands between the pages to hold his place.The second section, on a matte stock, contains the catalogue, which, while focusing more on provenance, still ends up containing significant redundancies with the essays.

2.While nearly all of the horizontally-oriented works are treated to spread-size reproductions (16" x 24" minus margins), all of the vertically-oriented works are displayed on single pages with margins (for example The Seven Acts Of Mercy is 8 5/8" x 13").Since the size and weight of the book obviate the need for viewing it on a table rather than in the lap, a few larger representations of vertical works which required the rotation of the book would have been a nice addition.

FYI, there are three tri-fold full-bleed details: The Calling Of St Matthew, The Seven Acts Of Mercy, and the Borghese St Jerome Writing).

I await the delivery of a used copy of the Puglisi book, as well as the reissue of the Spike; perhaps between those three and my Quirinale exhibition catalogue I will acquire a complete set of Caravaggio reproductions of the highest quality. ... Read more

2. Caravaggio, 1571-1610 (Taschen Basic Art Series)
by Gilles Lambert
Paperback: 96 Pages (2000-08-01)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 382286305X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Notorious bad boy of Italian Baroque painting, Caravaggio (1571-1610) is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Though his name may be familiar to all of us, his work has been habitually detested and forced into obscurity. Not only was his theatrical realism unfashionable in his time, but his sacrilegious subject matter and use of lower class models were violently scorned. Michelangelo Mirisi de Caravaggio lived a life riddled with crime and scandal, producing a body of work that wouldn't be appreciated until centuries after his mysterious death. Though his body was never found, he is assumed to have been murdered by ruffians on a beach south of Rome-a fate strangely similar to that of controversial Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini who was, like Caravaggio, a homosexual.

Caravaggio's reputation was decidedly poor during his lifetime; sometimes rich, sometimes penniless, when he wasn't in prison he was running away from the police or his enemies. Perhaps no other painter has suffered such injustice: his works were often attributed to more respected painters while he was given the credit for just about anything vulgar painted in the chiaroscuro style. Caravaggio's great work had the misfortune of enduring centuries of disrepute. It wasn't until the end of the 19th century that he was rediscovered and, quite posthumously, deemed a great master.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Caravaggio Taschen Basic Art Series
This is a fine, glossy volume, a must for any Caravaggio fan. It features fantastic prints of Caravaggio's paintings; beautiful, glossy double page spreads for some of the more well known paintings. A simple biography of the artist as well as some basic art analysis. Just a beautiful book, one I'm proud to own for the beautifully printed paintings, if nothing else.

3-0 out of 5 stars bad read, good illustrations
Purchased this paperback in Italy for its illustrations:good color quality, included close-ups.It was also light and easy to carry as we searched on foot for Caravaggios.Ended up being a very disappointing and even frustrating read both stylistically and in terms of content.We'll be purchasing Catherine Puglisi's Caravaggio now that we're back home.I most definitely wouldn't have purchased this after coming home but it served its purpose over in Italy.

5-0 out of 5 stars CARAVAGGIO
Notorious bad boy of Italian Baroque painting, Caravaggio (1571-1610) is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Though his name may be familiar to all of us, his work has been habitually detested and forced into obscurity. Not only was his theatrical realism unfashionable in his time, but his sacrilegious subject matter and use of lower class models were violently scorned. Caravaggio's great work had the misfortune of enduring centuries of disrepute. It wasn't until the end of the 19th century that he was rediscovered and, quite posthumously, deemed a great master. He is now considered the most important painter of the early Baroque period; without him there would have been no Ribera, Zurburán, Velázquez, Vermeer or Georges de la Tour. Franz Hals, Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Manet would have been different. In this new book you'll find over 50 of Caravaggio's best paintings; we think you'll agree that he was a genius beyond his time. ... Read more

3. Discovering Caravaggio: The Art Lover's Guide to Understanding Symbols in His Paintings
by Stefano Zuffi
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2010-10-26)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$29.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0847835294
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Beautifully reproduced masterpieces showcase Caravaggio’s genius in a unique, highly educational, and enjoyable format. Published to coincide with an exhibition at Rome’s Scudrie del Quirinale on the four hundredth anniversary of Caravaggio’s death, this magnificent book reproduces fifty of his most important works from great museums around the world. Each work is accompanied by a page of die-cut windows that help the reader focus on specific aspects of each painting and features captions that highlight the most important details or subtle symbolism embedded in a painting. Called the most famous painter in Rome during his lifetime, Caravaggio is credited with bringing realism to painting, refining the technique of chiaroscuro, and inspiring the rise of the baroque. Among the masterpieces included are Boy with a Basket of Fruit, Bacchus, John the Baptist, Medusa, Judith Beheading Holofernes, Amor Victorious, Ecce Homo and The Flagellation of Christ. ... Read more

4. The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece
by Jonathan Harr
Hardcover: 271 Pages (2005-10-25)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$8.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375508015
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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An Italian village on a hilltop near the Adriatic coast, a decaying palazzo facing the sea, and in the basement, cobwebbed and dusty, lit by a single bulb, an archive unknown to scholars. Here, a young graduate student from Rome, Francesca Cappelletti, makes a discovery that inspires a search for a work of art of incalculable value, a painting lost for almost two centuries.

The artist was Caravaggio, a master of the Italian Baroque. He was a genius, a revolutionary painter, and a man beset by personal demons. Four hundred years ago, he drank and brawled in the taverns and streets of Rome, moving from one rooming house to another, constantly in and out of jail, all the while painting works of transcendent emotional and visual power. He rose from obscurity to fame and wealth, but success didn’t alter his violent temperament. His rage finally led him to commit murder, forcing him to flee Rome a hunted man. He died young, alone, and under strange circumstances.

Caravaggio scholars estimate that between sixty and eighty of his works are in existence today. Many others–no one knows the precise number–have been lost to time. Somewhere, surely, a masterpiece lies forgotten in a storeroom, or in a small parish church, or hanging above a fireplace, mistaken for a mere copy.

Prizewinning author Jonathan Harr embarks on an spellbinding journey to discover the long-lost painting known as The Taking of Christ–its mysterious fate and the circumstances of its disappearance have captivated Caravaggio devotees for years. After Francesca Cappelletti stumbles across a clue in that dusty archive, she tracks the painting across a continent and hundreds of years of history. But it is not until she meets Sergio Benedetti, an art restorer working in Ireland, that she finally manages to assemble all the pieces of the puzzle.

Told with consummate skill by the writer of the bestselling, award-winning A Civil Action, The Lost Painting is a remarkable synthesis of history and detective story. The fascinating details of Caravaggio’s strange, turbulent career and the astonishing beauty of his work come to life in these pages. Harr’s account is not unlike a Caravaggio painting: vivid, deftly wrought, and enthralling.
". . . Jonathan Harr has gone to the trouble of writing what will probably be a bestseller . . . rich and wonderful. . .in truth, the book reads better than a thriller because, unlike a lot of best-selling nonfiction authors who write in a more or less novelistic vein (Harr's previous book, A Civil Action, was made into a John Travolta movie), Harr doesn't plump up hi tale. He almost never foreshadows, doesn't implausibly reconstruct entire conversations and rarely throws in litanies of clearly conjectured or imagined details just for color's sake. . .if you're a sucker for Rome, and for dusk. . .[you'll] enjoy Harr's more clearly reported details about life in the city, as when--one of my favorite moments in the whole book--Francesca and another young colleague try to calm their nerves before a crucial meeting with a forbidding professor by eating gelato. And who wouldn't in Italy? The pleasures of travelogue here are incidental but not inconsiderable." --The New York Times Book Review

"Jonathan Harr has taken the story of the lost painting, and woven from it a deeply moving narrative about history, art and taste--and about the greed, envy, covetousness and professional jealousy of people who fall prey to obsession. It is as perfect a work of narrative nonfiction as you could ever hope to read." --The EconomistAmazon.com Review
In 1992 a young art student uncovered a clue in an obscure Italian archive that led to the discovery of Caravaggio's original The Taking of the Christ, a painting that had been presumed lost for over 200 years. How this clue--a single entry in an old listing of family possessions--led to a residence in Ireland and the subsequent restoration of this Italian Baroque masterpiece is the subject of this brisk and enthralling detective story. The Lost Painting reads more like a historical novel than art history, as Harr smoothly weaves several narratives together to bring the story alive. Though he does not provide an in-depth examination of the painting itself--the book is not aimed specifically at art experts--Harr does include many details for lay readers about restoration, the various methods used to track artwork through history, how originals are distinguished from copies, and an inside view of the art world, past and present. He also discusses various forensic approaches, including X ray, infrared reflectography, chemical analysis of the paints and canvas, and other modern techniques. But most of the book is focused on more primitive methods, including dogged research through dusty archives and meticulous attention to detail.

This entertaining book boasts an engaging cast of characters, all of whom are inflicted with the "Caravaggio disease," including some of the foremost Caravaggio scholars in the world, persistent students, obsessive restorers, and most of all, the artist himself. Mercurial, supremely gifted, and prone to violence, Caravaggio lived like an outlaw and a pauper most of his troubled life. Yet even when he attained wealth and fame--and briefly, respectability--he was still hounded by the law (for murder) and numerous vengeful enemies. Harr does an admirable job of bringing the man alive in these pages while keeping his long-lost painting at the center of the action.--Shawn Carkonen ... Read more

Customer Reviews (93)

4-0 out of 5 stars History as mystery...
Fascinating story about the diligent archival research and coincidences involved in the search for a lost masterpiece. Very well written, very well supported with historical data. Maybe a little heavy on the personal drama side, but that's what takes the "dry" out of the historical account and gives life to the research. Caravaggio is portrayed as a bit of a mystery himself, a "bad boy" artist who painted earthy images of religious characters. Almost reads like a mystery novel. The lost painting itself, the centerpiece of the story, is a moving, dramatic scene of the betrayal of Christ...will they find it?????

5-0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Painter re-emerges
You'd never know this was a work of non-fiction.It reads like a great murder mystery--without the murder.A student of Art History in Rome is on a hunt for a missing Carravagio, a picture of Christ's betrayal in the Garden.It's beautifully written and will bring you up to date on Art History, tho you might not notice you're being educated.

3-0 out of 5 stars 2 and a half stars
I was glad to have read "The Lost Painting" because it was so informative about the world of the art academy, restoration, and to some degree, the world of Caravaggio, but (and perhaps others have mentioned this) WHERE are the illustrations? No St. John, no Emmaus, and the only reproduction of the "lost" painting is on the cover--highly irritating in a book of these pretensions.Many others have mentioned the fact that young Italian art student Francesca Cappelletti and her associate had nothing directly to do with the actual discovery of the painting's location.Perhaps Harr meant to connect us with the history of the painting this way, but it creates a very curious, and negative effect.

Worth reading (especially if you have access to reproductions of the art), with reservations.

2-0 out of 5 stars Great story, but not much of a book
As a photographer and great admirer of Michelangelo Merisi di Caravaggio's mastery of light, I was eager to plow through Jonathan Harr's book "The Lost Painting."And to be sure, there is something here.Just maybe not enough for a book length.The core story is interesting, but the book itself isn't.

Walking down cob-web stone steps by candle light is all well and good, but it feels as if Harr used over descriptive language and really stretched the word count to accommodate publication. The book needed a deeper parallel story accompanying the search for The Taking of Christ, one we don't find in this book.I think after reading the dust jacket, you'll probably get most of the story than reading the whole book.

This is a great five page article for the New Yorker, but this is by no means worth the word count in the book.

3-0 out of 5 stars The lost chance
There's nothing terribly or conspicuously *wrong* with this book, but there are several things that prevent it from being the wonderful read it could have been, being, as it is, based on a great story that should have ensured an absolute page-turner.

The first thing (which other reviewers have pointed out before me) is that Mr. Harr seems undecided on whether he wanted to write a novel or a work of nonfiction. He has written the latter, but trying (unsuccessfully in my opinion) to infuse it with some of the typical trappings of fiction thrillers, i.e. ending chapters with adrenaline-charged sentences or 'revelations', including a love affair, etc. This is unfortunate, because nonfiction, when presented in the right way (and not 'dressed up' as something else), can be as compelling as fiction. The example that comes most readily to mind is Deborah Cadbury's harrowing account of how the quest for Louis XVII, the boy king of France who went missing after the Revolution, was solved with the help of a DNA investigation. Unlike Mr. Harr, Ms. Cadbury didn't try to make the people in her book sound like characters from the Da Vinci Code.

This approach forces Mr. Harr to try to make the people in his book (who are all real) 'interesting' in the way that a writer of fiction tries to make his characters interesting. I couldn't have cared less about the love life of Francesca Cappelletti, the sexy Italian scholar on a motorbike --- whose affair with Luciano, by the way, must be the most boring 'romance' to have graced the pages of a book in decades. Neither did I care about the personal frustrations of art restorer Benedetti, or English scholar Mahon's aversion to being hugged by women. Most of these people actually come across as being rather petty (e.g. the two young female scholars' unkind behavior towards the aged Marchioness at whose residence they make their discoveries), but even with these human failings exposed they just don't seem to be very interesting.

The interspersion of a couple of chapters dedicated to Caravaggio's life felt a bit artificial, as if Mr. Harr was trying to fill up space. More substantial information about his life, or a better distribution of it throughout the book, would have been better.

The other problem I had with this book was its lack of passion. It doesn't sound as if Mr. Harr is in love with any of his subjects --- Caravaggio, Italian paintings, the world of art scholarship. This is a rather dull read, as if the work had been commissioned --- a view borne out by Mr. Harr's admission that he had originally written an article, but needed a book project in order to avail himself of an invitation to the American Academy in Rome. I didn't feel the passion that seeps through the pages of, say, Antonia Fraser's biographies, or Thomas V. Cohen's wonderful account of 'love and death in Renaissance Italy' (which covers roughly the same period in which Caravaggio lived).

Many reviewers have expressed disappointment in 'The Lost Painting' as compared with Mr. Harr's previous work, 'A Civil Action'. I can't comment on that, not having read it. All I can say is that 'The Lost Painting' is an informative read about a very interesting historical find, but don't expect an unputdownable book --- you'll be disappointed.

... Read more

5. Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles (Eminent Lives)
by Francine Prose
Paperback: 160 Pages (2010-02-01)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$4.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061768901
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Francine Prose's life of Michelangelo Merisi (da Caravaggio) evokes the genius of this incomparable artist through a brilliant reading of his paintings. Caravaggio's use of ordinary people, realistically portrayed—street boys, prostitutes, the poor, the aged—was a profound and revolutionary innovation that left its mark on generations of artists. Revered and successful, Caravaggio was protected by powerful patrons, yet he was also a man of the street who couldn't free himself from its brawls and vendettas. In Caravaggio, bestselling author Francine Prose presents the brief but tumultuous life of one of the greatest of all painters with passion and acute sensitivity.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars "...a whore,a slashing, daggers, a police spy, and a jail term."
I knew a few things about Caravaggio before I read this short bio. I knew he'd been in trouble for throwing a plate of artichokes at a waiter. I knew he'd murdered a man over a tennis match bet. And I'd been to see The Taking of Christ at the National Gallery in Dublin. That was just enough to whet my appetite.
Francine Prose Brief Lives bio was just what I was looking for - she compresses a lot of information about Caravaggio and the times he lived in in to an elegant, concise book, that never feels over-stuffed or too brief.

Prose creates a wonderfully atmospheric context, describing the cramped, dangerous streets of Caravaggio's Rome; streets where rival gangs prowled and feuded; streets where struggling artists like Caravaggio often had to live by their wits and their swords; Streets where the wonderfully named "Office of the Night" patrolled in search of sodomites.

Caravaggio was what we now accept as the classic stereotype of the artists: wild, bad tempered, unable to get on with anybody, alternating between massive arrogance and crushing insecurity, and genius who revolutionised painting.
At times he is such a larger than life stereotype that it's almost hard to believe in him. And yet it's all true. Yes, Prose tells us, he had to flee Rome after murdering a man (although nobody is quite sure if it did indeed involve a bet over atennis match). Sure, he was arrested multiple times and imprisoned for various offences. It's even true that he was made a Knight of Malta, before ticking off one his brother knights and getting himself thrown in to the inescapable prison fortress on Malta....from which he escaped. He was almost killed in a brawl in Naples. And he fittingly died from a combination of the bad luck and bad temper which had dogged his life, trekking along the baking Italian coast, trying to catch up with the Rome-bound ship he'd been dragged off of in a case of mistaken identity. The exact truth about his death will never be known - most likely died of a fever, although I pesonally like the rumor that the Knights of Malta finally caught up with him.

And Prose does an excellent job defining Caravaggio the artist, and the impact he had on his contemporaries. Before Caravaggio, dominant style in Rome was mannerism, which had changed little since the days of its pioneer Michelangelo. Caravaggio rebelled against this school, choosing instead to paint from life, to focus not on the grand scale, but on the smallest details. Whereas mannerism was an art filled with huge events, crowds of people, dizzying scale, Caravaggio's style was to zoom in to an intimate moment, stripped bare of superflous actors and often even background. Prose writes great mini-pieces on his most important works, highlighting the important aspects of each.

My favorite sentence:
"Still another inscription on yet another manuscript, this one an almost indeciphrabable scrawl, refers to an incident involving a whore,a slashing, daggers, a police spy, and a jail term."

A quick, fascinating read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles
Provides a wonderful overview of his approach to painting and his intentions. I've visted his work in Italy and the book does convey the beauty and the power of his images as well as can be achieved via the written word. Gives one a good sense of the man and his work. I would have liked it to contain more information, thus a longer book, but this may have led into more technical information than the public would desire.
A good perspective of an artist and his work for those interested in art and the creative process.

5-0 out of 5 stars H&J Bailey
We purchased "Caravaggio: Painter of miracles" in preparation for a tour to ITALY dedicated to the works of Caravaggio that we found in Rome, Naples and Florence. It was an excellent preparation.
Excellent sketch of Caravaggio's life, and overview of his opus. The author's clear and aggressive prose fits Caravaggio to a T. The text was easily read and exciting in it's coverage of things Caravaggio.
I recommend the book to any person interested in Caravaggio and I intend to pursue other works by the author Francine Prose.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Sinner-Saint
Francine Prose's "Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles" is part of a series ofshort biographies called "Eminent Lives" in which famous authors write about great historical figures. The aim of the series is not be produce scholarly or definitive works; instead it is to offer the reader a gateway into the works and importance of the subject to inspire further exploration and thought.

Francine Prose is best-known as a novelist. She offers in this book an elegant short guide to the great Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573 -- 1610).Caravaggio's story is one of the most romantic and tantalizing in art.He moved to Rome as a young man of 21 and established his reputation as a painter of importance, turning early in his career to paintings of religious themes.But Caravaggio's life was tumultuous, violent, and brutal.He was never without his dagger, even when he slept.He brawled and fought and consorted with the low life of Rome, and was forced to flee the city after killing a man in a dispute that involved a bet over a game of tennis.In exile, Caravaggio continued to live violently, to flee from place to place, and to paint masterpieces.Prose captures the tension between Caravaggio's tortured life and his artistry. She writes:

"The life of Caravaggio is the closes thing we have to the myth of the sinner-saint, the street tough, the martyr, the killer, the genius -- the myth that, in these jaded and secular times, we are almost ashamed to admit that we still long for, and need. .. Each time we see his paintings, we are reminded of why we still care so profoundly about this artist who continues to speak to us in his urgent, intimate language, audible centuries after the voices of his more civilized, presentable colleagues have fallen silent". (p. 13)

Prose did not get me very far into Caravaggio's life.She is much more successful in describing the paintings, which she does in good detail for a short book. The book includes 11 color plates of some ofCaravaggio's masterpieces, from the beginning to the end of his career. Prose has helpful things to say in helping the reader to understand these works and the circumstances of their creation -- she helps the nonspecialist learn to look at and respond to a painting. I found her especially good in discussing Caravaggio's paintings of the "Calling of Saint Matthew"-- where she eloquently shows the artist depicting a conversion experience -- and its companion work, "The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew."Prose also discusses well many paintings that are not reproduced in the book.In order to get the most from these discussions, the reader will need to find these paintings in another source-- this book has as its goal, after all, encouraging further exploration of Caravaggio.

Prose finds Caravaggio's greatness lies in his honesty, directness, and naturalism.She stresses how is works communicate directly with the viewer.Prose also emphasizes how Caravaggio used common people and places and the tough street life with which he was familiar in his paintings, including the use of rough laborers, common dwellings, gypsies, and prostitutes.Caravaggio's work combined elements of violence and low life with deep spirituality as he explored the mysteries of faith, conversion experiences,loneliness, and martyrdom.Caravaggio's brilliance as a painter, and the highly modern tension his work suggests between the spiritual and the mundane, are reasons why many people will continue to be fascinated by his work.

Prose's book doesn't capture fully the reasons why Caravaggio's work continues to live and to move people.But her book will encourage reflection upon and further exploration of the work of this great and troubled artist.

Robin Friedman

2-0 out of 5 stars A brief life with no new insights
Francine Prose writes well and with a light ironic touch but this slim volume adds little to what we already know about Caravaggio. At a little over 100 pages and with only a handful of color illustrations the book amounts to little more than an extended essay of Ms. Prose's reactions to Caravaggio's major works. There are very many better books showing the paintings and Prose doesn't go into the camera obscura technique that Caravaggio undoubtedly used, giving his paintings an almost photo-realistic representation of his subjects.

That Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a brawler with a passion for picking fights worthy of "Fight Club" who combined erratic behavior with some sublime paintings is hardly an insight. A much better treatment of the life and psychology of the artist appears in Peter Robb's 1998 "M: The Man who Became Caravaggio" which curiously is unreferenced by Prose.

Although Prose notes that Caravaggio broke away from the stylized poses and unearthly lighting of the mannerists, I don't think she clearly explains his genius. ... Read more

6. Caravaggio
by Catherine Puglisi
Paperback: 448 Pages (2000-01-03)
list price: US$49.95 -- used & new: US$29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0714839663
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) has been rescued from neglect to emerge as something of a cult figure, celebrated for his boldly original art and for his short, violent and troubled life. This monograph on the artist's life and work is issued here in paperback format.Amazon.com Review
As Catherine Puglisi points out in the most beautifulCaravaggio book ever, the soulful, tormented, ethereally talentedpainter has become a pop icon, with a "full-blown industry ofCaravaggio publications." Puglisi's book is a standout in this crowdedfield. With remarkable evenhandedness, she sifted through thescholarship and discoveries--and the trash--of the past 20 years andwrote a Caravaggio book that does justice to the painter's gloriouswork. She doesn't skimp on the juicy parts of his life, however: shecandidly but coolly recounts and appraises the bits of historicalevidence for his sexuality (both hetero and homo), his use of whoresand ruffians as models, and his many scrapes with the law. All thewhile, she focuses the reader on the paintings, aptly describing suchnaturalistic, groundbreaking works as The Calling ofSt. Matthew, of 1599.

Gazing at the large, double-page color plates in Puglisi's book, it iseasy to feel the erotic pull of the many early canvasses of suppleyouths that have been so widely reproduced in recent years. But thelater religious pictures, in which the models for the saints andMadonnas still seem almost palpable in their reality, have the mostdramatic magnetism. Rest on the Flight into Egypt isparticularly moving. It may never be possible to unravel the tangledweb of Caravaggio's life, but Puglisi manages to restore a welcomebalance to our view of his art. --Peggy Moorman ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't cut paintings with a binding!
I just purchased this book based on previous reviews.One disappointment I have with it is the cropped paintings or paintings with the seem slicing through them.It's frustrating as a student of the arts to try and copy the tiny details out of the bindings.Aside from that, I am glad I bought it.The works inside are fantastic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Caravagio
This is an excellent book.The pictures are amazing! and the explanation is precise.I give it 5 stars!

2-0 out of 5 stars A Book ofWonderful Pictures
I did so look forward to receiving this book greedily unwrapping it as soon as it arrived.I'm a huge fan of Caravaggio and having seen many of his paintings in situ I was eager for any new information.Unfortunately I'm one of the people who can't read the small silver text on glossy white paper.When I say "can't read" I mean that within about two minutes all of the little silver words on the page just dissolve into whiteness.I agree it looks pretty but perhaps that combination of ink and paper might best be reserved for an invitation to a Winter Solstice dinner and not used in an obviously superb book such as this one.Catherine Puglisi was done a terrible dis-service in the design of this book.Thequality of the photographs of the paintings (and the quantity) are fantastic and I have enjoyed them immensely.Maybe the paper version is black on white but I sure don't like to have buy the same book twice.I'm giving two stars to what is probably a five star book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Thorough Investigation of the Genius of Caravaggio
Dr. Catherine Puglisi is not only a fine scholar, well informed about her subject, she is also a fine writer. CARAVAGGIO is a richly produced heavy volume (hardcover reviewed) that spreads the text throughout the course of the book as each of the points about the artist's life and technique and gifts to art history is explored.

The color plates are reproduced with clarity and two-page extensions of the larger horizontal works aid the reader in gaining perspective.Multiple images of details offer close examination of Caravaggio's technique, a manner that continues to influence representational artists today.

Puglisi gratefully does not shy away from the controversial aspects of Caravaggio's life and sexuality.She deals with the facts and presents them in context with his concurrent paintings. The volume includes an exceptionally fine body of appendices that offers a complete checklist of the paintings including small reproductions of some, a terse bibliography, and a series of extracts from the myriad sources from which Puglisi extracted information.

The one criticism of this book, and it is a significant one, is the small type font in the pale gray ink selected by a designer who seems more concerned with 'making a pretty book' than in respecting the written word!But in the end this is a definitive volume about one of art history's more interesting and gifted painters.Grady Harp, December 05

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book about a PHENOMENALartist!!
Anything showing photos of this fellow's incredible oevre would probably deserve the highest praise even without editorial guidance. But just browsing thru this one will stun anyone not familiar with Caravaggio, which is probably 98% of the populace.Ms. Puglisi interweaves the artist's life and times around the glorious color photos. The print may be a tad small,but the fact that there's around two spaces between each line of text makes it, IMHO, even easier to read than otherwise. The raw,harrowing originality of this artist are beyond description, and his life is a near match. He died violently before the age of 40...Especially recommended for those (mainly males) who may think that Art and Art History are less than manly pursuits!! (Yes there are plenty of guys out there who think like this.) Give this book, the author,publisher, and the artist way more than five stars!! ... Read more

7. Caravaggio Studies
by R. Friedlaender
 Hardcover: 386 Pages (1975-06)
list price: US$21.95
Isbn: 0691003084
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars comprehensive analysis of his paintings
A comprehensive monograph on a relatively obscure Italian artist. The book analyses most of his surviving paintings. Showing the development of his techniques, and comparing them to those of his contemporaries. The text is also a biography of Caravaggio. Friedlaender has done some heavy digging in original source material to compile this work.

Considerable portions of the biography are somewhat speculative. Probably unsurprising, given the paucity of information.

5-0 out of 5 stars A key to Caravaggio .
One of the pioneers of Caravagio studies, Friedlander's book deserves a reserved place on every Art bookshelf. The systematic approach and novel handling of what could otherwise be difficult to digest, makes Friedlander's masterpiece anessential tool to have and enjoy for every one interested in Caravaggio ... Read more

8. M : The Man Who Became Caravaggio
by Peter Robb
Paperback: 592 Pages (2001-02-10)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$5.95
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Asin: 0312274742
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

As vividly and unflinchingly presented herein with "blood and bone and sinew" (Times Literary Supplement) by Peter Robb, Caravaggio's wild and tempestuous life was a provocation to a culture in a state of siege. The end of the sixteenth century was marked by the Inquisition and Counter-Reformation, a background of ideological war against which, despite all odds, brilliant feats of art and science were achieved. No artist captured the dark, violent spirit of the time better than Caravaggio, variously known as Marisi, Moriggia, Merigi, and sometimes, simply M. As art critic Robert Hughes has said, "There was art before him and art after him, and they were not the same." Robb's masterful biography "re-creates the mirror Cravaggio held up to nature," as Hilary Spurling wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "with singular delicacy as well as passion and panache."
... Read more

Customer Reviews (45)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Caravaggio Tell All
Peter Robb brings to life the history of Caravaggio.He not only provides the facts, he paints a picture of the reality of this 16th century painter.From an academic approach I found Caravaggio to be much more coherent through Robb's writing than through the traditional methodologies in contemporary art history.Robb has produced an amazing recreation of the life of the Baroque period's greatest artist.I would recommend this Caravaggio tell all journey to anyone who wants to understand the artist on a much deeper level.

5-0 out of 5 stars Complicated Light
Robb's book takes us on a journey through Caravaggio's life...a jump from his earliest training to Caravaggio's experience of Rome's streets in the 17th century...and then, on until exile and death.

Robb's book illuminates something of theman who simplified his compositions to three things: the human body, light, and movement.

Caravaggio's very complicated life gave us a simplified, powerful artistic vocabulary. Now, Robb's book gave me new names to admire as they showed up in the paintings. Mario Minitti's curly hair and his basket of fruit at the Borghese contrast with the atist's self portrait as the so-called "Sick Bacchus". Looking across the room from one to the other is such a treat! What delight to know the curly-headed ruby-lipped boy has a name! What fun to think about the artist's self-portrait as the severed head of Goliath with his David (Cecco) holding the grotesque at arms length! The arrested figures that reveal the tableau vivant of the master's hand-the tenebrist canvas that takes no preparatory drawing...when I learned that Minitti gave Caravaggio sanctuary in Sicily, and that, later, Minitti grew up to be a painter (and a polygamist! ?? !!!) I had to see Mnitti's works! It has been so gratifying to reach out into other circles of influence, to learn about the "Caravaggisti"...and this book has been my guide into that realm.

In seeing Caravaggio's work up close and personal, Robb's work informs, and humanizes the achievement. I think this is a must-read if you care about art at all.

3-0 out of 5 stars M for Mystified
M takes you into political intrigue, a Machavillian world where art and money and power and murder combine to make an interesting read. Caravaggio was and remains one of few artists who brings to life his subjects, from the poor, the criminal to the sinful. Robb's book shows that M stands for modernity of Caravaggio's works; M stands for the magic touch in Robb's pen; and M stands for the Macabre in Caravaggio's world. However, whether M stands for Michelangelo Merisi in this book is debateable. Robb has written a book shrouded in mystery, lunacy and darkness of Caravaggio's time, but it seems he may also have shrouded the man himself.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Thorough, But Difficult to Read at Times
I have to agree with the other reviewers that this is an unnecessarily difficult book to read because of the author's wording and grammar. Yes, it needs a strong editor to straighten it out a bit. In spite of that shortcoming, Robb loves and respects his subject. He has clearly done a tremendous amount of research, even if the net result is that he has to do a lot of speculating. However, for me, (unlike for some other reviewers) Robb made it clear enough when he was speculating, and when he was stating what is generally accepted scholarly knowledge.

3-0 out of 5 stars Beer... Not Barolo
This book is a popular romp, missing, obfuscating or ignoring the academic rigor and elegance of authors such as Puglisi, Spike and others... you can feel it reaching for a movie option. However, Robb provides one genuinely delightful contribution, his vivid descriptions of the paintings themselves. Having had the advantage of reading this book while living in Rome, I was able to literally take it in hand to many of the paintings, think through Robb's observations. One may not agree with what he says about the works. But reading his observations, then rendering your own, is a splendid exercise. It really needs to be read with Puglisi's book or another good set of illustrations on your lap, to compare his viewpoint with the reality of the paintings. As for his grammar-- well, let's just say it's idiosyncratic, but not without some charm. In sum, it's sloppy but truly entertaining...like drinking pub beer as compared to Puglisi's complex and satisfying Barolo. And beer is just the right choice, sometimes. ... Read more

9. Caravaggio (25)
by Taschen
Hardcover: 96 Pages (2010-10-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$10.11
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 3836523817
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Caravaggio - A genius beyond his time

Notorious bad boy of Italian Baroque painting, Caravaggio (1571-1610) is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Though his name may be familiar to all of us, his work has been habitually detested and forced into obscurity. Not only was his theatrical realism unfashionable in his time, but his sacrilegious subject matter and use of lower class models were violently scorned.

Caravaggio's great work had the misfortune of enduring centuries of disrepute. It wasn't until the end of the 19th century that he was rediscovered and, quite posthumously, deemed a great master. He is now considered the most important painter of the early Baroque period; without him there would have been no Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Vermeer or Georges de la Tour. Franz Hals, Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Manet would have been different.

In this anniversary edition you'll find over 50 of Caravaggio's best paintings; we think you'll agree that he was a genius beyond his time.

... Read more

10. The Lives of Caravaggio (Lives of the Artists series)
by Giorgio Mancini, Giovanni Baglione, Giovanni Pietro Bellori
Paperback: 96 Pages (2005-02-01)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$6.75
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Asin: 0952998688
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Lives of Caravaggio is comprised of the earliest three biographies of the Italian Baroque master, revealing how his revolutionary painting and tempestuous character fascinated and appalled his contemporaries. With 20 color reproductions.

In the course of a short and violent life, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571– 1610) revolutionized painting, producing a style of shockingly immediate realism that swept through Europe and still resonates today. Almost everything we know about his life comes from these three early biographies, and they reflect the often horrified fascination that Caravaggio exerted on his contemporaries. Giorgio Mancini, his physician, underscored the value of Caravaggio’s revival of painting. Giovanni Baglione, a mediocre rival, is far less generous, but unable to hide his awe. The leading art historian of the following generation, Giovanni Pietro Bellori, produced a more balanced assessment, with detailed analyses of many of his major paintings. The Lives of Caravaggio is introduced by Helen Langdon, the leading expert on the painter, who elucidates the historical and artistic context of these biographies. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Lives of Caravaggio
This is a great little book that has collected all the writings about Caravaggio from three famous art historians of the 17th and 18th centuries (Mancini, Baglione and Bellori). Very handy as it has all the extracts from their own art histories in the one small volume; saving the reader the time, effort and money of looking for each of their individual books and then chasing down their comments on the favourite artist in their books. A nice little addition to any Caravaggio fan's collection - small enough to keep close to your heart! ... Read more

11. Caravaggio
Hardcover: 247 Pages (2010-09-21)
list price: US$70.00 -- used & new: US$41.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 8857204588
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Four hundred years after the death of Caravaggio, some of the world’s most illustrious art historians comment on an extraordinary collection of twenty-five of his works. How is it possible that an artist who lived over four centuries ago is still seen today as an icon of modernity? The answer must be sought in his works; this is where we will grasp Caravaggio’s aesthetic pursuit. He observed without prejudice, hewing close to the truth of things. In short, his was a revolutionary art, one which continues to fascinate laypeople and experts alike to this day. The editors asked some of the world’s preeminent Caravaggio scholars to share their feelings and insights about their favorite works by the artist. The result is an original catalogue of great rigor expressed in deeply human and richly subjective tones. With works from all over the world including Saint John the Baptist from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; and The Musicians from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Caravaggio more oscuro than chiaro
This book is the catalogue for the Caravaggio exhibition held in Rome, at the Scuderie del Quirinale until june 2010 to celebrate the fourth centenary of the artist's death. To say that it is a complete retrospective of the artist's output would be painting this book with too broad a brush, as two major paintings are missing (the Fortune Teller and the Death of the Virgin) as well as obviously some of the larger Roman church commissions such as the Conversion of Saint Paul at the Cerasi chapelin Santa Maria del Popolo or the Saint Matthew cycle at the Contarelli chapel in the San Luigi dei Francesi church in Rome.

The book itself is divided into two essays that try to evacuate the myth in the artist's biography and concentrate on his qualities as a painter, which is actually the only way to study Caravaggio's biography, since manydocuments are missing, especially on his youth and early years. This two introductory essays are somewhat pompous (lengthy paragraphs on pages 27-28 are devoted to thanking and listing the various personalities who enabled the exhibition, whether art officials or politicians, who were already mentioned and thanked in the opening pages of the book...), but still bring forth some interesting elements about Caravaggio's working method and the issues of attribution. Then follow interesting and well documented individual studies of the 26 paintings in the exhibition, some very famous (the Lute Player, Bacchus, the Basket of Fruit, Sleeping Cupid...) and some less so (John the Baptist from the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas, the Conversion of Saint Paul held in a private Italian collection...). On the whole, the text is informative and didactic and tries to avoid pedantry and unnecessary erudition.

Now, the disappointment, as another reviewer has already pointed out, comes with the illustrations: granted, there are numerous magnified details, but the quality of the reproductions does leave a lot to be desired and the paintings appear dark, if not somewhat blurred, as if the lightning went out at the moment the picture was taken. Therefore, only 3 stars.

3-0 out of 5 stars Rome exhibition catalog marred by dull illustrations
This is a catalog of an extensive Caravaggio exhibition held in Rome this year. The book begins with a brief overview of the artist's life. This is followed by a discussion (around 4 pages per painting) of the 26 Caravaggio exhibits. There are full page color illustrations of each work and additional detail photographs.

While the text by various writers is informative, I found the color of the illustrations disappointingly dull in quality. From memory the originals certainly did not seem lifeless and insipid as seen in this book. Certainly compared to the large Taschen/Schutze volume, this issue is a considerable letdown. While I note the observations by some reviewers of the Taschen book that the reproductions are not realistic, I found them thrilling.It is my opinion that the Taschen is the book to acquire for an excellent representation of Caravaggio's artistic output. ... Read more

12. Caravaggio (Rizzoli Art Classics)
Paperback: 192 Pages (2006-03-28)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$4.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0847828093
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The Rizzoli Art Classics series brings you Piero della Francesca, Titian, Caravaggio, and Velázquez, all in beautifully illustrated monographs, offering high-quality reproductions in compact, accessible volumes.These books feature a literary introduction by a renowned art historian, a thoroughly researched essay, and captions describing the artist's most famous canvases. A useful appendix section includes an extensive chronology of the artist's life and important historical events of his time; a compilation of writings by well-known historians, insight into each painter's stylistic development; a geographical table detailing the location of each painting in the book; and a concise bibliography with suggested further readings.With authoritative text by leading art historians, these lavishly illustrated editions provide fresh insight into the art and lives of some of the most fascinating artists in the history of painting. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Holy Sinner
This is what comes of reading Vladimir Nabokov's disturbing book The Enchanter; I find myself meditating on the delicate relationship between an artist's life and her/his work. I've reviewed the music of Johann Rosenmueller, a molester of choir boys, and the frescos of the Tuscan painter known as Sodoma, a bigamist who surrounded himself with pretty boys. Caravaggio was a great painter of the late Renaissance, a major innovator of 'chiaroscuro', whose work can be passionate and serene at the same moment. He was also a ruffian, a sexual rogue and a murderer.

The Rizzoli Art Classics series is a modest introduction to the artist, with fairly good reproductions, though small for a painter whose canvases were huge, and intelligent criticism/commentary. These days, of course, you can get more info and more photos of the paintings via Google, but the book will feel substantial in your hands. ... Read more

13. Caravaggio (Bfi Modern Classics)
by Leo Bersani, Ulysse Dutoit
Paperback: 96 Pages (1999-05-27)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$10.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0851707246
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IllustratedCaravaggio (1986) is probably the closest Derek Jarman came to a mainstream film.And yet the film is a uniquely complex and lucid treatment of Jarman's major concerns: violence, history, homosexuality, and the relation between film and painting.However, according to Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, Caravaggio is unlike Jarman's other work in avoiding a lover-boy sentimentalising of gay relationships and in making no neat distinction between the exercise and the suffering of violence.Film-making involves a coercive power which, for Bersani and Dutoit, Jarman may, without admitting it to himself, have found deeply seductive.But in Caravaggio this power is renounced, and the result is Jarman's most profound, unsettling and astonishing reflection on sexuality and identity. ... Read more

14. Vittorio Sgarbi's Caravaggio
by Vittorio Sgarbi
Paperback: 208 Pages (2007-04-17)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$11.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 8876248595
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Art critic, historian, writer, TV presenter, politician and professional provocateur, Vittorio Sgarbi is a prominent figure in Italy's cultural landscape. Controversial, often caustic, and always charismatic, his thought-provoking opinions and writings leave no room for indifference. In this highly readable and well-informed book, Sgarbi covers the life and works of Caravaggio, analyzing the genius's disordered and adventurous existence and the revolutionary greatness of his masterpieces. As Vittorio Sgarbi writes in the book:"The life and work of an artist always end up looking alike; but in Caravaggio's life there was a sense of fun, an enjoyment of burlesque and a lack of propriety that is not reflected even in his in most daring works. In Caravaggio, we had the cohabitation of a sophisticated, intellectual capable of imprinting an ideal turning point in the course of history and the principal character of an adventure story-quarrelsome, overbearing, cursed-as he was portrayed in romantic interpretations. On the other hand, his intemperance cannot be ascribed to the spirit of the times; behavior that we would call extravagant today was instead common in such violent and difficult times. The true greatness of Caravaggio lay in his having shown the other, and indeed authentic side of reality. But these are external elements, psychological reflections that pass from life into art." ... Read more

15. Caravaggio: A Passionate Life
by Desmond Seward
Hardcover: 224 Pages (1998-11-04)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$150.00
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Asin: 0688150322
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Michael Angelo da Caravaggio (1571-1610) had an amazingly colorful and adventurous career, full of dramatic contrasts. He was a religious artist who used prostitutes and castrati as his models; a mystic with a police record; the favorite of Cardinals and the Pope's portrait painter, who committed a murder; an outlaw from the Roman hills, lionized at Naples; a Knight of Malta imprisoned in a Maltese dungeon; hunted by hired assassins in a vendetta with an unknown enemy; horribly disfigured by sword cuts in a Neapolitan brothel. Ironically, he died on a lonely Tuscan beach after receiving a pardon that would have allowed him to become an even greater painter.

Based on the latest research, but largely written as an adventure story, the book concentrates on the man and his personality, without neglecting the artist. It vividly re-creates his life in early Baroque Italy and as a "monk of war" on Malta.

Amazon.com Review
Historian Desmond Seward has written an indispensable book onCaravaggio--equally balanced and historically double-checked. But evenwith all its references, dates, names, quotes, and carefulscholarship, this biography reads like a novel that is impossible toput down. Caravaggio, of course, with his "wild, wild spirit" and"very strange temper," according to contemporary accounts, is anatural subject for a galloping narrative.Caravaggio's religious andsocial status as a Knight of Malta, his protection by a famouscardinal, his street fighting, his fine silk clothes worn until theyrotted away, his prostitute models and lowlife friends, his repeatedfailure to win a commission for St. Peter's, and his bitterness at therise of mediocre rivals are just some of the ingredients of this goodread.

What Seward does, to riveting perfection, is convey 16th-century lifeto the reader. He takes Caravaggio's renowned naturalism and shows uswhere it came from. He transports readers to Rome in the 1590s, wherethey explore the old stones of the ancient empire, step over the humanexcrement in the streets, and witness the pageantry of luxurioushorse-drawn carriages promenading through the mud. Readers lurk withSeward in the darkness, light lamps and candles, and feel the damp asthe Tiber rises, leaving behind more than a thousand corpses when itfinally recedes after a terrible flood. They stand in the crowd andwatch as the heads and bodies of decapitated criminals are quarteredand hoisted on spears and ramparts for display. Gradually readers getthe feeling that Caravaggio's predilection for severed heads was lessthe product of a tormented imagination than it was simply all in aday's observation for an unwavering realist. --Peggy Moorman ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Holy Sinner
I am fascinated by the combination in one person, of great creativity, in the service of religious ideals, with uncontrolled sexuality, violence and criminality, and depression.The relationship between these two extremes may be the modern temperament writ large.Thus, in the company of many people, I have long been interested in the art and character of the great Italian baroque artist, Michelangelo de Caravaggio (1571 -- 1610). Desmond Seward's short and readable biography, "Caravaggio: A Passionate Life" (1998) offers a good overview of a remarkable artist and deeply flawed and troubled person.Seward is an English historian who has written on the medieval and renaissance periods.He is a member of the Knights of Malta, as was Caravaggio for a brief time; and Seward's religious perspective undoubtedly has much to do with how he sees the artist.I was not convinced by parts of Seward's understanding of his subject.But he presents his materials well with room for his readers to disagree.

Caravaggio was born in the small Italian village for which he is named, and his father died a victim of the plague early in life.From 1588 -1592 he served an apprenticeship as a painter in Milan but fled to Rome, most likely as a result of killing a policeman.In Rome, Caravaggio ultimately received recognition for his extraordinary paintings but was forced to flee the city in 1606 after killing a man named Tommasoni in a duel.(He had earlier accumulated a long police record in Rome.) He received a dispensation to join the Knights of Malta but was expelled and forced to flee after another duel in which he severely wounded a superior in the Order.Caravaggio had strong defenders in Rome, greatly aware of his extraordinary gifts, and received a papal pardon.But, knowing that he had been pardoned, in 1610 Caravaggio died a miserable death en route to Rome after drinking contaminated water. During his years in Rome and thereafter, Caravaggio was an astonishing painter, creating many masterworks, mostly on religious themes.Many of his works have been lost, but some have resurfaced in recent years.

Seward gives a brief treatment of the little that is known about Caravaggio's life and makes an effort to separate knowledge from speculation in the original source material.He does a good job in putting the artist's life in the context of the Italy of his day, with its many states, cultures of endemic and pervasive violence, and susceptibility to natural disasters, such as floods, and plagues.He also discusses effectively the counter-reformation in the Catholic Church; and he places Caravaggio's paintings squarely within the goals and religious outlook of the attempt to revitalize Catholicism from the challenges of Protestantism.For all the violence and difficulties in his life, Seward stresses, Caragaggio never had doctrinal difficulties that might have interested the Inquisition.

Seward also discusses Caravaggio's major paintings (the book includes good color reproductions of 16 of them) emphasizing their naturalism -- Caragaggio's attempt to paint people and things as they were -- and, increasingly, their mysticism and religiosity.He is good at pointing out the violence in many of the paintings -- especially the scenes of beheadings -- and their use of light and of dark shadings.Seward is far less convincing on issues of sexuality.He is dismissive on issues of eroticism in Caravaggio's art, and on the artist's likely bisexual or homosexual orientation.The historical record may be sparse, but many viewers have found compelling evidence of eroticism in the paintings -- including the paintings reproduced in his book.Seward properly emphasizes, I think, the religious, mystical nature that finds expression in Caravaggio's art, but he downplays the violent, demonic, and sexual nature of the artist.Thus, while he properly subtitles his book "A Passionate Life", he gives the reader less than the whole of it.

As Seward points out, in many respects Caravaggio, with his great talent and equally great human flaws, is the prototype of the modern antihero.Undoubtedly, this combination accounts for much of the fascination the artist and his works continue to exert.Seward's book sets the stage for considering the tortured relationship between Caravaggio's life and his art; but in the end he fails to do his subject complete justice.

Robin Friedman

5-0 out of 5 stars A Brillant Concise Biography
It is no secret among my friends that Michelangelo Merisi da Carvaggio is among my favorite painters.Because Caravaggio's paintings have a narrative quality, an almost universal appeal and real drama, they have long spoken to me.When the National Gallery of Ireland loaned its newly discovered Caravaggio - one of the best and notably, one that hasn't suffered at the hands of overzealous restorers of past centuries - to our own National Gallery of Art, I flew to Washington to see it.Even hanging in the gallery of Baroque masterpieces, it stood out as a sublime work of art. Like his paintings, Caravaggio's life was a study in contrasts.While he painted soaring religious masterpieces, he lived his life in the gutter, fighting, killing, gambling and whoring.So, enjoying his work as much as I do, it is with pleasure that I share a elegantly crafted, well-written little monograph titled "Caravaggio: A Passionate Life."The author, Desmond Seward, is not an art historian but a historian of the Middle Ages and because of the number of art historians with an agenda; this is almost certainly a good thing...instead of being filled with jargon or far fetched theories, he has provided readers with a consise, well-written monograph on a epoch creating artist!

4-0 out of 5 stars Caravaggio is Caravaggio
Any biography of Caravaggio is bound to be immensely interesting because he was far from ordinary, someone who will never fail to shock and amuse modern readers.While several reviews I have read complain about the brevity of the book, I found its length appropriate-it did the artist justice without bogging the reader down with too much analysis and irrelevant details.It assumes some familiarity with Italy and European history, but it has several chapters devoted solely to discussing the time period, while always making a connection to Caravaggio's life.I found it particularly nice that nearly all of Caravaggio's paintings were discussed and analyzed within the biography.The book has several copies of paintings inserted in its middle, but lacks the majority.Therefore, I found it incredibly helpful to have my Caravaggio anthology nearby so that I could follow the author's discussions.Undoubtedly, anyone that is not a Caravaggio fan would find these sections tremendously boring, but I loved the opportunity to pore over his paintings with a new understanding of their significance and context.

5-0 out of 5 stars you'll love it.
This may be the best of the new Caravaggio books. As a painter and a student of art history, I found this book by Seward to be absolutely absorbing.Seward not only gives insight about Caravaggio's life, but alsodelves into the events that may have inspired his paintings. Please readthis exciting book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Account of Caravaggio and his works
Firstly an admission, I had no prior knowledge of Caravaggio or his paintings. My main area of interest is military history but after seeing the beautiful cover on this book I picked it up and browsed through thewonderful colour plates. I had to have the book to read and after orderingit from Amazon.com and sat and waited. It was worth the wait! I enjoyed thestory of this most interesting man, yes its a bit short (200 odd pages) butto a person like me who had no prior knowledge or interest in this subjectit filled a gap in my education. This was an interesting book to read and Ijust loved the colour plates of the artists work (16 colour pictures). Thebook has sparked an interest to learn more of this man, his times and hisart. For that alone the book was worth it and the author has done his job.I would recommend this book for those who want to learn a little bit moreabout this man and his art. ... Read more

16. Caravaggio (Icon Editions)
by Howard Hibbard, Shirley G. Hibbard
Paperback: 416 Pages (1985-03-06)
list price: US$51.00 -- used & new: US$40.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0064301281
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars Cheap B & W Pictures!!
WTF?? I have not read the text so I can comment on the book per se.The pictures are awful.... cheap, grainy, black and white...very returnable!

1-0 out of 5 stars Crappy
This is by far the crappiest books on painting book ever.The pictures are black and white and look like a photocopy of a bad photocopy.Needless to say, I returned it the next day.Buyer Beware.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book That Lacks Color Plates
I would agree with the other reviewers that in many respects this is an excellent book. Mr. Hibbard analyzes Caravaggio's works in terms that are comprehensive, and yet not puffed up with academic hot air. He describes the historical context of the paintings, and often compares individual works of Caravaggio with similar paintings of other artists. He even points out artistic errors, such as the lack of perspective in the hands of a man in the painting Supper At Emmaus.Hibbard talks about the striking use of color in Caravaggio's compositions, and it is here that one can be somewhat disappointed with the book for, the wonderful paintings of Caravaggio are, with very few exceptions, reproduced in a dismal black and white. If you are familiar with Caravaggio, and are most interested in the author's commentary, than this deficiency would probably not bother you. I have John Spike's "Caravaggio" that is full of color plates, but it is more expensive. Although I have not seen it, I understand C. Puglisi's book by the same name also has many color plates. For the relative newcomer to this great painter, I would encourage consideration of one of these other two books as a companion volume to this excellent book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Transcends the usual assigned texts
In one of my last classes for my degree, this book was the required text. I am awed by Caravaggio's work anyway, but combine that with Howard Hibbert's insightful text and you have an amazing book. I would definitely recommend this text for anyone interested in this fantastic artist.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Book for a Great Artist
Caravaggio is one of the greatest artists of the 17th century.In a very brief period of time he managed to exert a influence over all of European painting.

Caravaggio was the original bad boy of the art world. He was willing to use well known prostitutes as models when portraying the Virgin Mary or to show saints with dirty feet.This offended authorities in Baroque Rome and Caravaggio was often a trial to his patrons. During the majority of his active career he was on the lam fleeing from a murder charge. He burst on the Roman art scene during the height of its influence and spent his last days in Malta in the company of the knights.

Although Caravaggio's influence was immense immediately after his death where his masterful use of light and shadow was immitated by countless lesser artists.For a number of years Caravaggio's reputation declined. Raphael's influence dominated academic art and Caravaggio's relatively harsh realism was in disfavor.It was only in the 1950's when a major evaluation occurred.

This book by Howard Hibbard is probably the first of these modern reevaluations of Caravaggio and it is still one of the best. Professor Hibbard is one of the country's leading art historians and he brings considerable scholarship to his study of Caravaggio's work. Although there are plenty of other books on Caravaggio, I think that this book is still the best of lot in terms of understanding Caravaggio's art (his life was sufficiently messy and his sexuality ambiguous to spur the mills of contemporary scholarship for many years). Professor Hibbard's writing is sufficiently free from academic claptrap to make it an invaluable guide to both the specialist and the novice. ... Read more

17. Masters of Art: Caravaggio (Masters of Art)
by Alfred Moir
Hardcover: 126 Pages (1989-09-30)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$36.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000BZEPEQ
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A discussion of the life of the artist is accompanied by reproductions and critical analyses of his major painting. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Terse but Well Illustrated Caravaggio Volume
Though this Harry N. Abrams 1989 monograph on Caravaggio is dated and not at all the thorough investigation of a fascinating painter's influence on the history of making and living art, Alfred Moir's CARAVAGGIO does offer an exception introduction to the painter's work.The biography is confined to the opening forty pages and contains enough of the highlights of Caravaggio's career to pique the interest.But the real pleasure of this 'old standard' book is the presentation of the color plates of many of Caravaggio's most interesting works. These are not crowded, each painting being given its own single page opposite which is a fine discussion of the painting both technically and about the subject.

For a fine quick reference book for the paintings addressed in the continuing stream of biographies of Caravaggio written today, this volume is a perfect foil. Just don't expect a scholarly volume or excessive detail.Grady Harp, December 05

4-0 out of 5 stars Use in combination with Peter Robb's The Man Who Became Car.
Wonderful slick pages. Clear, realistic colors and appropriate collection in black and white.I recommend this book as an intro to Caravaggio's paintings, but in substance I recommend as comparative reading to Peter Robb's The Man Who Became Carravaggio.OUTSTANDING comparisons of this master's life and works can be considered.Together, this was my favorite read of the year.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bad boys line on
Caravaggio (1571-1610) is the Baroque period's black sheep. The tenebrism that so succsessfully glamorises his canvases is perhaps the metaphoric shadow stirred by his own haunting emotional tumult. The artist's private pain. The homoerotic quality of his early paintings is not mentioned today in the Encyclopedia Britannica. But, like Ganymede and Narcissus, his adolescents charm a print that evokes an age long gone. While at Rome he continued his superb though idiocyncratic profession. The genius of his work at odds with the ignominy in his life. To this book Alfred Moir lends an scholarly and savvy article. Detailing Caravaggio's brilliant if bizarre progress. Mr Moir evokes the vivid milieu of this, Baroque's rascal artist, immensily gifted, though always his own worst enemy. Or, was he? Obscure for some time, now Caravaggio shines. And as we also celebrate the James Deans and Orson Welles, buddies from the same pantheom. Pictorially, the text is full of riches, my favorite the 'St Matthew" series. My other favorite is when..."he threw a plate of artichokes onto the face of a waiter..." I was moved, I'm happy to own this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Years of Painting Mortally
His "Incredulity of St Thomas," with the focus on Thomas's prodding and Christ's reassuring hands, and his "Madonna of Loreto," with the Virgin and Child approachably compassionate to the muddy-footed pilgrims in rumpled clothing, have been much copied. His "Entombment" has been unanimously acclaimed:with only Christ's and Mary Cleophas's faces fully illuminated; with Nicodemus supporting the dead legs while hunching over to look straight into viewer eyes; and with the Virgin blessing all. But it was his "Lute Player" that CARAVAGGIO called his most beautiful picture:with the tenor score to 16th-century madrigalist Jacques Arcadelt's "Voi sapete ch'io v'amo [You know that I love you]" open for the tenor lute; with the unique horizontal balancing of boy and freshly blooming bouquet of vividly colored flowers; and with the window light source reflected on the carafe. The colorplates in Art History Professor Alfred Moir's book are of such photographic quality that readers clearly see the 17th-century artist's studio window light source reflected in the carafe within his "Boy Bitten by a Lizard." The compellingly thorough text and the author's ANTHONY VAN DYCK prepare readers to go on to the other giants of his time, with Jose Alvarez Lopera's EL GRECO, Kristin Lohse Belkin's RUBENS, Jonathan Brown's VELAZQUEZ, Ludwig Munz's REMBRANDT, and Arthur K. Wheelock's JAN VERMEER. ... Read more

18. Caravaggio: Colour Library
by Timothy Wilson-Smith
Paperback: 128 Pages (1998-08-10)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$7.86
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0714834858
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) was a boldly original painter who led a short and violent life. The powerful realism of his figures upset many of his contemporaries, and their power to shock remains undiminished. This book, providing a biography, presents all his most famous masterpieces, each with a commentary. The introduction gives an account of his wayward life and his artistic development. Controversial in his own lifetime, and neglected after his death, Caravaggio has re-emerged both as a great master and as something of a cult figure, the subject of a notable film by Derek Jarman. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good value
This book is a very good value for the price. Nice selection of Michelangelo Merisi's paintings. If you are on a budget and would like larger versions (full page or so) of some of his most famous works, this is a great choice.

4-0 out of 5 stars A+ at the price
I've seen nicer books coming in at several hundred dollars but for the ~$5 you really can't beat this onePlenty of beautiful full color plates this makes an excellent student edition and a reference book for home.If you're purchasing for an all out art reference library you should look into a different edition.

5-0 out of 5 stars Impressive!!!
Someone made a reference in 1999 that this is an 80 page book. It is 127 pages and filled with quality color plates. The paper's a bit thin, but certainly adequate, as is the text. I have just finished reading 'The Lost Painting', and wanted to peruse some of the works discussed in the book (a fascinating read and/or listen with the audio book). Another reviewer noted this is as a wonderful book to begin a collection. The publisher, Phaidon, really puts out some fine materials. I own three of their publications now, one being '50 Self-Portraits' and another on Tadema. If you have an inclination to dwell awhile on the stunning legacy of Caravaggio, this should more than do the job.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Price....
This is a nice overview of the work of Caravaggio.. and the price is very good - I saw a similar collection (though it was hardcover) for nearly $100 - I am satisfied with this general overview for much cheaper. I think the colors are pretty good - and the artwork is, of course, timeless!

5-0 out of 5 stars Caravaggio (Colour Library) by Timothy Wilson-Smith
I have recently returned from the met and observed the great colour used by Caravaggio and was inspired to by the book.This contains a great of information and has great paintings on my favourite artist--Caravaggio.God bless ... Read more

19. Caravaggio: A Life
by Helen Langdon
Paperback: 448 Pages (2000-07-20)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$79.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0813337941
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Of all the great Italian painters, the seventeenth-century master Caravaggio speaks most clearly and powerfully to our time. In this vivid and beautifully written biography, Helen Langdon tells the story of the great painter's life and times in a way that leaves the reader with a renewed appreciation of his art.
Amazon.com Review
Seventeenth-century painter Nicolas Poussin once said thatCaravaggio came into the world to destroy painting. Helen Langdon'smarvelous biography suggests that rather than destroying painting, theMilanese artist gave it a new lease on life. Upon his arrival in Rome,Caravaggio ended a tradition of Italian Renaissance painting with hisradically new naturalistic style, which continues to dazzle andinfluence viewers today. Beautifully poised between biographicalscholarship and artistic appreciation, Langdon's book provides thereader with a complex, fascinating portrait of Caravaggio, still therebel and outsider of the popular imagination, but also immersed inthe Roman world of art, politics, and patronage. Some of the finestsections of the book vividly evoke the streets and brothels of early17th-century Rome, which provided Caravaggio with the inspiration formany of his early works. By contrast, the later sections--which dealwith Caravaggio's exile and commissions in Naples, Malta, andSicily--seem rather brief and truncated, giving the final third of thebook a rather unbalanced feel. This is, however, partly due to theelusiveness of Caravaggio himself--with little direct contemporarydocumentation on the painter, he often slips into the shadows, evadingthe scrutiny of even the most persistent biographer.

Langdon's achievement here is to produce a compelling portrait of theartist that throws new light on his paintings. Here is a painter whowas proud, difficult, and arrogant, yet highly intellectual in hisappreciation of the changing face of both Catholicism and scientificenquiry. Written with great historical clarity, and supplemented by 42magnificent color illustrations, Helen Langdon's Caravaggio isa worthy contribution to scholarly study of this artist.--JerryBrotton ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Extensively documented and researched, but ...
Everything you need to know - and more - can be found in this book. Unfortunately, some parts suffer from a clunky writing style and odd turns of the phrase. Better editing would have helped it immensely.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Best
This is one of the best Caravaggio books ever written.It is a shame it is no longer in print.The combination of Roman history, church history and art history along with the extensive use of art plates, provide the backdropfor a thorough look into the life of one of the greatest artists of all times.

Helen Langdon gave me the opportunity to understand not only who Caravaggio was, but how he progressed in his development as an artist. This is a thoughtful and thorough presentation. There are many excellent books available on various aspects of Caravaggio's life and paintings; this is the most complete.It is worth the effort to try to locate a used copy of the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars As clear a portrait as we can hope for, currently...
Langdon's research payed off in this beautiful look at one of the Late Renaissance's most powerful (and mysterious, and notorious) painters.Sadly, most of what we know of Michelangelo Caravaggio's life is through second-hand sources -- police records and such -- but Langdon seems to have pored through every bit of esoterica related to the painter's relation to his time, his culture, and his peers.What we get for her troubles is a portrait of a man whose devotion to religion was so strong that he would do anything -- including lying about his lineage -- to maintain a secure place as a "defender of the faith."

Sadly, the one-star review on this page has a point:many of Langdon's statements are qualified with "perhaps", "almost certainly," etc.This, however, is one of the prices we pay for any attempt to pin down an elusive person who lived on the fringes of a society which passed four hundred years ago.I much preferred this reading to, for example, Desmond Seward's CARAVAGGIO of the same year, in which the author ranted against any recent interpretations of homoeroticism in Caravaggio's sensual paintings, and even against the concept of Caravaggio -- a notoriously violent and tumultuous figure in the history of painting -- having actually earned his lifetime reputation as a criminal!

Beautifully illustrated, well documented, and written with both a sensitivity towards the subject and a refusal to let that sensitivity obscure "the dirt". ..this is a significant addition to the study of one of painting's more fascinating figures.I highly recommend it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Hedging as a Writing Stype
Ms.Langdon has impressive credentials but the book is exasperating for anyone who is interested in Caravaggio the man.There is hardly a comment she makes that isn't qualified.The text drips with phrases like quite possible, perhaps, it may be that, could it be that, etc.When so littlecan be known for certain about a figure in history, why not just write anovel--historical fiction is a more honest genre and less frustrating forthe reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars Light inside the Shadows
I found this book to be very entertaining as well as educational. The author did a great job of recreating the setting of Carravaggio's life; the important characters and atmosphere of all the places the artist lived inhis nomadic life. Also, I look at Carravaggio's paintings in a newlight and am even more impressed and moved by them than previously. Carravaggio's was a tragic life. The author captures the sense of impendingdoom that hanged over the artist's head like an executioner's sword.Theauthor did a great job of bringing the artist to life with what little isactually known about him, through records, accounts, and most of all hispaintings. Through it all there is the sense of an awesome talent andfragile ego, that both humbles and angers all who knew him. I came awayrealzing that Carravaggio was a man of his times as well as an artist ofall time. ... Read more

20. Caravaggio's Death of the Virgin (Princeton Essays on the Arts)
by Pamela Askew
 Hardcover: 240 Pages (1990-07)
list price: US$52.50
Isbn: 0691039836
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Caravaggio's Roman altarpiece, Death of the Virgin, in the Louvre, is often considered shockingly realistic and radically secular in content. Pamela Askew reveals its imagery to be as rich in metaphor and allusion as it is salient in its dramatic immediacy. The painting, notorious for its rejection by the fathers of the church of the Discalced Carmelites in Rome, S. Maria della Scala, was nevertheless praised by Caravaggio's contemporaries. Askew's analysis of the interdependency of formal and iconographical elements stresses Caravaggio's emphasis upon the body of the Virgin and offers new suggestions of why the image, despite its theological orthodoxy, may not have accorded with the Marian ideals of the reformed order. An earlier dating for the work is also proposed and its historical background enriched by new information on the hitherto obscure patron, Laerzio Cherubini. Caravaggio is shown to allude to Cherubini's active interest in a philanthropic institution for women with which the church of S. Maria della Scala was allied, through his exceptional inclusion of the figure of the Magdalen in a scene of the Dormition. Askew seeks to place the Death of the Virgin within the artistic and literary as well as social, theological, and spiritual contexts that contributed to its pictorial shaping. The Roman congregation of the Discalced Carmelites is investigated as is the tenor of its spirituality, and Caravaggio's formulation of the theme is interpreted in relation to his own pictorial synthesis of time passed and time future in time present. ... Read more

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