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Artist: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Title: The Calling of St. Matthew
Technique: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 340 × 322 cm
Date: 1599-1600
Location of creation:
Current Location: Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome
Movement: Renaissance

Artist: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Title: Ecce Homo
Technique: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 128 × 103 cm
Date: c. 1605
Location of creation:
Current Location: Palazzo Bianco, Genoa, Italy
Movement: Renaissance

DESCRIPTION:

Caravaggio’s studies of light give mythological and biblical scenes a more dramatic and intense perspective. Achieved through the implementation of chiaroscuro (a technique that uses a bold and high contrast between light and dark in the whole composition, modelling light and enhancing the volume of forms), light is the means by which narration can occur.

This theatrical use of light, used to narrate stories, record archetypal moments, highlights the center of the story (as the painting above) turning the macabre more macabre (as seen in Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1599–1602), the darkness more dark, and in the process making emotions come to life.

Caravaggio’s world is a harsh world, made out of polar opposites (light and darkness, night and day, goodness and evil), violence and drama. But the power of light seems to always be there, amidst it all, like an observer itself, as if guiding the viewer onto safer havens.