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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bacchus (1597)

Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio, was
nervous by temperament, and personified the romantic figure.  He was born in Milan, he worked mainly in Rome, Naples, Malta and Sicily. His training was strongly influenced by Venetian and Lombard painting: from the first, he learned the use of the color, from the second, he learned the deep realism and the preference for humble and popular subjects.
This last feature is observable in the famous Bacchus  at the Uffizi, commissioned by his patron Cardinal del Monte as a gift for the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand I.  In this masterpiece, Bacchus is not represented in an idealized way. On the contrary, he might look like a man of the people, like one of those characters Caravaggio used to hang around with in taverns and brothels.  His choice of representing popular, uncouth and clumsy subjects brought him much criticism during his life.
Bacchus is depicted posing and holding a cup of wine with his left hand, as if he was reflected in a mirror. In fact, Caravaggio used a complex system of mirrors to paint the subjects on canvas, just like a primitive photographic technique. Outstanding is the skillful use of the oil technique: the effect of incredible realism in painting the fruit basket and the complexion of the young man as well as the transparency of the glass created a new approach to art.

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