Apollo playing the lute, Caravaggio

Apollo playing the lute, Caravaggio
Apollo playing the lute, Caravaggio

In most cases, art in general, and painting in particular, have a much deeper meaning than it appears at first sight, so that experts in iconography are able to read much further by interpreting objects They have a hidden meaning. In this context and based on the fact that the vast majority of pictorial works have a much more relevant meaning than appears at first glance, we should point out that certain artists developed a much more symbolic painting, which hides an iconological interpretation in the most everyday objects.

The work we are analyzing here is one of those paintings that can be read much further than it appears to the naked eye, it is an oil on canvas from the Baroque period painted by the Italian artist Caravaggio and which bears the title Apollo playing the lute or is also known as The Lute Player. It is a piece of horizontal format that measures about four hundred and twenty centimeters wide and almost one meter wide and that is currently exhibited in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.


According to experts, the canvas must date from the end of the 16th century, around the year 1595, and would be one of the paintings that Caravaggio made for one of his most prestigious clients, Cardinal Francesco del Monte with whom the artist had a close relationship. Del Monte was fond of music and Caravaggiohe reflected his tastes and aptitudes in the paintings he made for the cardinal. On this occasion the artist presents us with a canvas with a single character, it is the figure of a musician who is playing the lute when he turns his head to focus his attention on the viewer. The figure has caused various controversies over the years as some experts did not agree on whether it was a man or a woman, finally the studies carried out on the matter seem to indicate that it is a man with androgynous features since, in ancient times, they were considered perfect beings for having the best qualities of both sexes.

In fact if the experts finally ruled that it was a man it was thanks to the score you are reading since it is a score for tenor and it seems that in it a very famous madrigal is written at the time of Jaques Arcadelt.

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