Home Art History There’s Much More to Caravaggio’s ‘The Cardsharps’ Than Vice. Here Are Three Facts That Offer a New Perspective on His Early Masterpiece

There’s Much More to Caravaggio’s ‘The Cardsharps’ Than Vice. Here Are Three Facts That Offer a New Perspective on His Early Masterpiece

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Caravaggio, card sharps (c. 1594). Collection of the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth.

During his brilliant, passionate, and all-too-short life, Caravaggio defined a revelatory Baroque style characterized by suspense and realism, not to mention dramatic lighting. His bold and direct style shocked Europe in the 16th century and attracted the attention of popes and patrons, an influence that continues to reverberate to this day.

But his work is rare, with fewer than 100 paintings known today, and only 10 of them exist in the United States. New work exhibition “Between Friends and Rivals: Caravaggio in RomeAn exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago provides a rare opportunity to display two of his canvases. card sharps (c. 1594) and Martha and Mary Magdalene (c. 1598), together. These intimate depictions are placed in dialogue with a body of work by Caravaggio’s major artistic disciples, Caravaggisti, who embraced elements of his idiosyncratic style in the decades after his death. Masu.

of card sharps This work is considered the artist’s early masterpiece and is on loan from the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The composition shows a fashionable, naive, wealthy boy playing Primero (his game of cards that foreshadows poker) with another, more cunning young man. This second boy of his is sharply dressed, with a pink plume on his hat, but his attire is merely an attire to distract from his profession. Card sharp trying to trick his mark. On his back, Cardsharpe tucks a card into his belt, which he reveals with a wink at the viewer.

BA creepy, grizzled man looms between the two boys, peering over Mark’s shoulder and gesturing to his young accomplice. This skilled con artist wears gloves with his fingers cut off. This allows you to explore marked cards. A young Cardsharpe notices that he has a dagger on his hip. This theatrically suspenseful work was painted shortly after Caravaggio left the studio of Giuseppe Cesari, where he was an apprentice, and began an independent career, selling his works through the art dealer Costantino.

card sharps It would have a huge impact on his early career.Purchased by influential cultural figure Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte card sharpsand, perhaps more consequentially, offered the young artist accommodation in his palace, thereby introducing him to the world of the elite who formed his clientele. After that, the painting took on a storied life. At one point lost for more than 90 years, it was rediscovered and identified by Del Monte’s wax stamp on its back. Eventually, it entered Kimbell’s collection in 1987.

We had the rare opportunity of a museum exhibition to take a closer look at this work. card sharps And we found three facts that might change your perspective.

1. Here we see the real drama of deception and the double loss of innocence.

Caravaggio details card sharps (c. 1594). Collection of the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth.

card sharps is a genre painting, a style of painting that depicts scenes from everyday life, but Caravaggio’s work excludes any overt moralizing about vice. Unlike many artists of his generation who modeled their paintings on ancient sculptures, Caravaggio insisted on painting from life, finding models in every corner of society. This decision was not merely stylistic; rather than understanding painting as a kind of didactic fiction, he believed that painting should represent everyday reality.A drama with similar scenes card sharps, Therefore, it unfolds through small gestures. Caravaggio frames the composition so that the young Cardsharp’s back is facing the canvas. We are familiar with the tricks of the scammers, but they subtly invite us to adopt their perspective and welcome us into the groove. The morality of this painting is questionable at best. At the time, Cardsharp’s paintings were well known as “fate fixers,” and during pauses in the action, we hold our breath, hoping that young Mark doesn’t notice what’s going on. It’s hard to deny drinking and watching. The pictures are mischievous and the old conman’s face is comically rendered, making us smile a little and feel like we’re rooting for the bad guys.

The picture is novel and offers two possibilities that unfold in two registers. Cardsharp reaches for a card, but what he reaches for could just as easily be a knife. The two boys, from different backgrounds, act as complements and mirrors for each other. But while the rich boy’s nails are spotlessly clean, he notices dirt under other people’s nails. In a sense, the loss of innocence we anticipate is the loss of innocence of the young target, the innocent person who is about to be deceived. But this loss of innocence is doubled. While the rich boy may lose his money, the card-sharp young man tenses his body, opens his mouth with tense anxiety, is about to enter his own moment of unpleasant transformation, and his eyes The older, unscrupulous man in front of him seems to be his foreshadowing. future.

Carvaggio painted several scenes of impostors – hinting at the artist’s unpleasant biases

Caravaggio, fortune teller (c. 1594). Collection of the Capitoline Museums, Rome.

Painted by Caravaggio in the same year card sharps he also painted fortune telleranother scene of deception highlighted by class dynamics. card sharps precede fortune teller, And there are similarities between the two configurations. Here, a wealthy young man appears in almost comically flamboyant clothing and looks deep into the eyes of a Romani girl (identified by her scarf). She reads his palm and returns his gaze as he secretly removes the ring while caressing her hand.Caravaggio painted two versions fortune teller (He is also believed to have painted the following version) card sharps), suggesting that he felt the subject was important.

These two paintings were acclaimed for their unusual mixture of high and low depicting the harsh realities of street life, and earned Caravaggio considerable early acclaim. It is illustrated with elite depictions and delicate treatment of fabrics, colors, and ornaments. In a sense, the duality of these paintings reflects the artist himself. Caravaggio was known for his wild personality, being a gambler and back-alley brawler who frequented unsavory back-alley establishments. But at the same time, he lived a very privileged life, revered and protected from the heights of Italian society.

both card sharps and fortune teller It proved to be a deeply influential topic. Georges de la Tour, Bartolomeo Manfredi and dozens of other leading artists were on-site to provide their own interpretations.

card sharps Hints to the deception and illusion of painting itself

Caravaggio, medusa (1595–1598). Collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

in card sharps, a wealthy boy stares intently at his cards, oblivious to the shenanigans unfolding around him. In a sense, this dandy young man symbolizes the viewer of this painting, who accepts the fantastical world depicted by Caravaggio without thinking. Over the years, many have discovered a corollary between this Baroque artist’s interest in scenes of deception and his realistic approach to painting. In 1603, the poet Gaspare Murtola composed a madrigal that quoted the work of Caravaggio. fortune tellerThis suggests that the artist, rather than the Romani women he paints, is truly a duplicitous actor, even calling the artist a “magician.” Caravaggio would take this illusionism even further a few years later. medusa (1596-98), the severed head of a Greek mythological monster is depicted in three dimensions, as if placed on a platter.

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