Criminal...artist...murderer..? Who was Caravaggio?

Criminal...artist...murderer..? Who was Caravaggio?

David vs Goliath

Is this Caravaggio's most gruesome painting? When we think of the biblical tale of the boy David vs the giant Goliath, we often think of Michelangelo's Renaissance sculpture 'David', which represents the heroic David in 17ft of marble. Caravaggio, however, decides to depict the most dramatic part of the story: when David beheads Goliath. We can tell Goliath has only just been killed because of the blood that gushes from his head and his face that still bears the expression of shock. Learn more about how this painting was used as a tool by the Counter-Reformation church in our film presented by Marjotte Miles.

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Did you know?

Some art historians have speculated that the model who posed for David was Caravaggio’s assistant in Rome. It is also believed that Caravaggio decided to use his own self-portrait to represent the giant Goliath. This theory is often related to the beliefs about Caravaggio's character. Why would Caravaggio depict himself as the murdered, bloody head of the giant, when he could have depicted himself as the pious, humble hero David? Many biographies have characterised him as violent, aggressive, and even capable of murder! Decide for yourself whether you think this painting helps with this theory.














Don't Miss!

'The Last Caravaggio' at the National Gallery, London, which opens 18 April, examines the last few months of the artist's dramatic life. In May 1610, Caravaggio is working on his last painting, 'The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula'. Two months later he dies in mysterious circumstances... The exhibition will focus on the violence present in the works he produce during his last years, and will examine in close detail the gallery's own late Caravaggio 'Salome with the Head of John the Baptist'. Expect gore, dirty fingernails, and chiaroscuro in this sensational show.