Caravaggio Vs Massy

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Updated: May 16, 2022
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Throughout History, art has been a staple in societies around the world. Each new piece speaking volumes to its viewers. Art not only captivates us but teaches us about the thoughts and ideas prevalent to its period. Each artist set out to convey a message that would resonate with the audience giving it a lasting effect. Two artists that were exceptional at captivation was Caravaggio And Quinten Massy. Their work was held in high regard in their time and today for their meaning and message to the audience.

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Although different in subject and style these two artists were able to influence society and make an impression. In order to see how these artists were able to speak to their audience so well, one can compare the work of Calling of Mathew By Caravaggio and Money Changer and his wife by Massy. Starting first with the artist and the art, then the history of the times and society at the time, It will be clear how these two artists were able to change and influence and teach those who viewed their work.

Caravaggio, one of the renowned artists, is best known for his highly realistic style of Baroque together with the classicism effectively buried the artificial idiom mannerism and revitalized large-scale religious work in Italy. Although having a violent way about him, Caravaggio was one of the most influential Italian artists of the 17th century. Orphaned by the plague in 1584, he learned to paint by Simone Peterzano, in Milan. In 1592 He moved to Rome where he acquired several patrons, one being Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte. He helped him to gain his first major public commission for the side walls of the Contarelli Chapel, in San Luigi dei Francesi. It involved The Calling of St Matthew (1599-1600). It was a success. What made Caravaggio unique, was his style. Naturalism that made his figures seem more lifelike. The Calling of Saint Matthew is from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 9:9) when Jesus went into the custom house and saw Matthew and called to him. In the painting, Christ points to Levi, the tax-collector and calls upon him to become the apostle Matthew. Levi is to the left of the picture, the viewer’s attention is drawn to him by the hands pointing at him by Jesus, also by the bright light shining on him. During this time when the Catholic Church was trying to regain its popularity and crowds into its churches. One might look upon this work and feel that connection the Church wanted. More so it called to the audience to feel the massage of the scripture and be called back to the faith.

Quentin Massy was born in Louvain in 1466. He later settled in Antwerp. In his time, the town was a major trading center and rapidly became the principal city for all types of business between northern and southern Europe. Because of the presence of merchants from all over Europe that used a variety of money was that large number of moneylenders and money changers in the towns where most of the foreigners stayed. This famous painting by Massy is set in one of these cities. The two subjects are depicted half-length, seated behind a table. The scene is tightly framed, making them the focus of attention. They are in perfect symmetry. The man weighing the pearls, jewels, and pieces of gold on the table in front of him. This is distracting his wife from the book, a work of devotion. The mirror placed in the foreground a device in Flemish painting, allowing the artist to create a link with the space beyond the framed scene-reflects a figure standing in front of a window. On the right, a door is open, revealing a young man talking to an old man. The artist has produced an archaic rendering of the volumes and colors, opposing red and green, for instance. This fact, as well as the minute level of detail of the objects depicted. The second half of the fifteenth century in northern Europe saw a large amount of genre painting and landscapes and portraits and scenes of daily life. Artists painted these with moral messages as a way of condemning vices and reminding its viewers of the frailty of human existence. These are precisely the aspects that Massy. The gold, pearls, and jewelry have distracted the wife from her spiritual duty, reading a work of devotion. The objects in the background have been carefully chosen to strengthen the work’s moral message. The snuffed-out candle and the fruit on the shelf-an allusion to original sin. The carafe of water and the rosary hanging from the shelf symbolize the purity of the Virgin. Finally, the small wooden box represents a place where faith has retreated. Other artists painted many works on a similar theme. Again, imagine the feeling this would have on the viewer. It would remind them of their duty and faith. The Didactic massage was a mechanism used to build the faith. Like that of Caravaggio, the art pulled those who saw to remember their faith and continue to follow it.

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Caravaggio Vs Massy. (2019, Sep 05). Retrieved from