Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Caravaggio

Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Caravaggio
Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Caravaggio
Anonim

This painting made around 1597 for Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte shows several of the remarkable aspects of the art and personality of Caravaggio. It is undoubtedly a masterpiece created on behalf of one of his first patrons. A work that perfectly shows his style of shadows that would create the tenebrism, a current of the Baroque perfect to express all the drama possible in the scenes of a religious nature, which made this painter so famous.

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Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Caravaggio

However, in this case, to represent a saint, he chooses one of the most famous courtesans of the time: the beautiful Fillide Melandroni, who was also the female model for his Judith and Holofernes. And in fact, it is assumed that he could have had something more than a painter and model relationship with her, since historians speculate that their relationship was the trigger for the crime he committed against another man, the woman's lover and perhaps her pimp.

Michelangelo Merisi, better known as Caravaggio, always walked on the edge, with a life in which crimes, escapes and trials were not lacking. However, that was not an impediment for him to compose works as beautiful and wrapped in spirituality as this canvas that is currently owned by theThyssen Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

We see the saint with everyonethe attributes of its iconography. He dresses her richly, befitting her character's princely origins, and seats her on a cushion, comfortably facing the viewer. Until then, the image is totally naturalistic. An attractive and beautifully dressed random young woman, looking at us captivatingly. Some sensations that were easy to evoke thanks to the chosen model.

But then there are the rest of the details that allude to the suffering martyrdom that ended her life. There is the wheel with knives with which she was tortured, there is also the sword with which she cut off her head and the palm that alludes to her martyrdom is also seen. Although, the element that makes this sacred character clearer is the delicate golden halo that we see shining on the girl's head. A halo for a saint who had never before painted Caravaggio, and which he incorporated here perhaps to compensate for the true profession of the model or that the angelic face really inspired him.

All of this has to do with the subject matter, but then there is the technique of a genius. As usual in his works, Caravaggio hardly made any sketches or drawings. He launched into the colors to paint, in this case a waste of blue and purple tones. With them he captured light and volume, thanks to his masterful chiaroscuro. And curiously, the study and restoration of this canvas have shown that the painter, despite his mastery and speed when painting, also found time for important modifications. He could change a whole mass of color if he didn't convince him orhe would paint a hand over and over again until he was happy with it. In short, as with almost all of Caravaggio's works, this is a great and unique image.

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