Caravaggio

by John T. Spike

For the first time nearly every extant work by Caravaggio is reproduced in color in this lavish new volume, the long-awaited result of more than 20 years of research by a leading authority on the artist.

In an engaging and informed text, John T. Spike explores in detail Caravaggio’s scandalous life and provocative work. Placing Caravaggio within the broad panorama of society and ideas at the turn of the 17th century, the author sets a richly detailed stage for an artist who has been called “the first modern painter.” Caravaggio (1571-1610) reflected in his canvases his own desires and spiritual crises to an extent no one ever had imagined possible, and he shocked his contemporaries by portraying the saints and virgins of Christianity with the faces and bodies of his companions and lovers in Rome’s demimonde.

Accompanying the book is a critical catalog on CD-ROM in which all of Caravaggio’s extant paintings, as well as lost and rejected works, are thoroughly described. Each entry specifies the work’s medium, dimensions, location, and provenance, and provides an annotated bibliography of sources. Most of the entries conclude with a brief technical analysis. Much of this scientific data, of prime importance for attribution and dating, has not previously been published.

With its fresh insights, as well as judicious readings of the documents and the physical evidence of the paintings themselves, Caravaggio is the most thorough study on the artist to date, and it will no doubt remain a definitive monograph for many years to come.