Caravaggio’s disturbing art was a reflection of his life. As a result, “Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane” reads like a historical- swashbuckler-cum-detective-story while also providing an. Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane. Andrew Graham-Dixon; W.W. Norton; pp. Reviewed by Brian Jay Jones; October 4, This scholarly but spirited.

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Graham-Dixon’s biography does him something like real justice.

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon

While I know that a This book had the common flaws of biographies about people of whom little is known–speculation, filler and over-focus on their works when they are artists and writers. He had always been an outsider, a troublemaker, a difficult and dangerous man.

He apparently had no problems obtaining commissions but he had a violent temper and was frequently in brawls and in jail. The rest of this review is focused on specific paintings by Caravaggio that I found to be of special interest: As a result, he frequently wound up in court or even prison. Ik kende een paar van zijn schilderijen, maar wist eigenlijk niets van zijn tumultueuze leven.

Splendid book about a painter whose life was as wrapped in violence as it has been shrouded by conjecture. These rejected paintings were immediately snapped up by the rich and noble families who all coveted a Caravaggio painting. It is also a reticent and introverted work—a vision of a saint who looks away, to one side, rather than meeting the beholder’s eye. In retrospect it’s almost predictable that an environment such as this would lead to homicide, and indeed it did.

The author minces no words, Caravaggio was a conflicted man, a self-saboteur in many ways. Caravaggio’s art of course has survived the ages, but then there is also the legend – the apparent conviction for murder, and a reputation as a debauched lrofane. And from time to time, Carvaggio would look over the shoulder to the other Michelangelo, Buonarrotti.

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane | Book review | Art and design | The Guardian

Just think of the unpainted paintings due to this loss! Caravaggio’s innovation was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of chiaroscuro which came to be known as tenebrism the shift from light to dark with little intermediate value.


A difficult subject to write about as seemingly there are only secondary sources to rely upon–it’s too bad Caravaggio didn’t have a Theo. It profaen great to have Graham-Dixon show us Caravaggio’s paintings in great detail and with much sensitivity.

Inhis extraordinary talent caught the attention of Cardinal Francesco del Monte who subsequently became his first patron. The Calling of Saint Matthewc. Next stop, the teeming, iniquitous backstreets of Naples; then, after more troubles, the island fortress of Malta, where he managed to parlay his talent as a painter into a hospitaller knighthood, only to be stripped of the honor weeks later for having defied the rules of the ancient Order of St.

He fled to Sicily, where he was looked after by Mario Minniti, a fellow painter, and, once again, given major commissions for altarpieces.

I loved his discussions of the paintings, and the religious painti This is a big book and it took me a long time to read, not the least because I had to keep looking up every picture and artist mentioned online and stare at the paintings. The book could have been shorter and suffered less from all three. There’s a certain dour academic propriety to his reading of the live, and it’s a little depressing to be told that Caravaggio was not a violent whoremongering wastrel but “an intellectual and sophisticate”.

The archaeological find in Tuscany came too late to be of use to Andrew Graham-Dixon, but he too has been battling for a decade to assemble the fragments of Caravaggio’s obscure, mysterious life into a biography.

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane

As in the earlier painting, the saint occupies an caravafgio lush desert wilderness. This is a big book pages including Notes, Further Reading, and Index that thoroughly covers the subject.

The book creates a more subtle, complex, and persuasively human portrait of a man too often reduced in the past to the caricature of the bad boy artist—violent, promiscuous, rebellious and anti-social. But perhaps most importantly to would-be scholars and historians cagavaggio that Graham-Dixon does nothing to hide the labor of pouring through the very intricate legal records left behind by the Church and Rome.

This is a big book and it took me a long time to read, not the least because I had to keep looking up every picture and artist mentioned online and stare at the paintings. This scholarly but spirited biography explores the life of Caravaggio, the brilliant, brooding, bad boy of the 16th-century art world. This is a serious work that will live for the ages.


Caravaggio was particularly renowned for his use of chiaroscuro, a technique which uses light and dark to achieve a three dimensional effect. Alas, Caravaggio was not to retain his knighthood for very long: Caravaggio sounds like a maniac, patrolling the dark streets of Rome in the small hours of the night, sword and dagger at the ready.

The sad relics, recovered by researchers who speculate that he died of sunstroke in while weakened by syphilis, were laid out to be photographed on a plush red cloth that could have been a swatch from a cardinal’s costume in a Renaissance painting. His death was caused in part as a result of wounds received in a revenge attack by unknown assailants.

In the author’s opinion this cutting of the face was intended as payback for an insult given by Caravaggio to somebody from Malta. I’d sooner have heard more about Pasolini, whose casting of peasants wnd apostles in his The Gospel According to St Matthew directly follows Caravaggio’s practice of using a prostitute to impersonate the Madonna, or about Jarman, whose film Graham-Dixon disdains to mention.

The book is well written and keeps one interested throughout the book. Graham-Dixon’s work will eliminate any notion of frivolity about the study of art history. He paints a colorful and lively picture of an eventful historical period, when Inquisition Spain ruled Italy and Catholicism struggled to preserve its temporal and spiritual sacref against the spread of Protestant theology to the north.

In this age of extended youth, this novel is a Catcher in the Sacrd for the Millennial set. In between, he created magnificent paintings and got himself into a lot of trouble with the law.