The Flagellation of Christ by Caravaggio

Caravaggio has influence a plethora of artists throughout the years, with the introduction of a new art style called tenebrism, brought up emotions of the viewers, both religous and non-religious. Michelangelo Merisi, or how most people know him as Caravaggio ( “Caravaggio”, p1). He was born in a rather small town in Caravaggio, Italy in 1571.

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He grew up during the Counter-Reformation, which cause a big impact to the way that his art was going to grow to be. His father, Fermo Merisi, and his mother Lucia Aratori moved out of Milan due to the bubonic plague, and moved back to Caravaggio in 1576, when he was just 5 years old ( Graham-Dixon, Andrew, pg 4). Some years later his parents died due to the plague that they failed to escape. Caravaggio became an orphan at age 6, but at age 12 he was found by a talented artist from Milan, Simone Peterzano. Peterzano was talented with fresco painting, to which Caravaggio was never able to develop ( pg 6).

Caravaggio later became to be one of the leading painter of his time during the baroque period. His style of painting was unique, he was vastly influenced by the likes of Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. He traveled to Rome, like many artist did in order to have a more concrete sense of inspiration ( Graham-Dixon, Andrew, pg 8). Most of the work done at that time were altarpieces and sculptures, mostly commissioned by the pope Clemente VIII. Caravaggio was vastly attracted to the gore behind the paintings which at that time was perfect for drawing in emotions. His first commission was by a guy named Cesari, and he was in charge of doing decorative borders around altarpieces (pg 8). He felt like he was above all that, and so one of his most first painting was ” Sick Bacchus” , and it marked the beginning of his ascension as one of the leading artist of his time.

The extreme contrast between light and dark, which was also became known as tenebrism was a technique developed by Caravaggio ( Caravaggio and his paintings, pg 1-2). This let the artist show his craftmanship, and created an illusion of extreme vivid contrast of what was important in the painting. This made the paintings come to life, it made it seemed like the viewer was part of the scene happening throughout the painting. Caravaggio was often criticized because of his gruesome show of gore. Troubled by his harsh upcoming, he made the most of it and it was showed in his paintings ( “Caravaggio”, p 2). Some experts say that he reflected his rough upbringing through his extremely graphic works of art. Soon after, many artist tried to imitate that style of painting such as female painter Artemisa Gentileschi, Orazio Gentileschi, and Bartolome Manfredi (Caravaggio, pg 4).

During his artist career Caravaggio created multiple paintings, which ranged from non-religious , to religious scenic paintings. One of them is The Flagellation of Christ, this painting shows Christ being taken to be crucified. This painting displays a wide range of interpretations, symbolism, and the immaculate style of Caravaggio (Ronald, Klip, pg 2). This scene is taken from the Bible, when Jesus was arrested and judged, and beaten before he was taken to the cross. This scene shows tenebrism which highlights a beaten Jesus, but religious people were drawn in by emotion. This was some characteristics of the Baroque period, and he wasn’t stranger to showing emotion in his paintings in order to show his point across (pg 3).

All this made Caravaggio an impressive artist, to which let him to be one of the most influential artist of his time. Some of his followers where later known as Caravaggisti, which kept his style of painting going. Even though his life was full of unfortunate events he rose to the top, and followed his path to become one of the most well- known artist during the Baroque period. He did not just influenced a lot of artist at that time due to his new style called tenebrism, but he was also heavily influenced by the Bible and church, and other artist that came before him; he caused many religious followers and non-religious followers to be connected by emotions provoked by the paintings he created.

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