Saturday, January 1, 2011

Caravaggio: A Passionate Life by Desmond Seward | Review

Caravaggio: A Passionate LifeCaravaggio: A Passionate Life by Desmond Seward

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The author wrote with a definite slant, that was a bit odd. He is a Knight of Malta according to book cover, and that may explain a bit.

He seems to cover three things (in addition to some minutia about the Knights of Malta) the violence and eccentricity, the patrons, and the religious feeling. Seems some special pleading to make him seem more orthodox. Not to much about the art per se. Almost zilch about his use of light to convey passion, and structure his paintings.

One of my favorites:

And definitely not about Caravaggio's sexuality, except to insist over and over again that he was not gay or bisexual, in many cases that sound like special pleading. Like those who think he was seems less concerned with it than this author who seems to have wanted a "manly" Caravaggio (albeit very disturbed, proud and unhappy). True, there was a whole institution of circulars, avisos, that were the yellow press of the day, so there were definitely false rumors being spread all the time. I guess that's no big deal, but the vibe given off by his Bacchus doesn't seem consistent with that interpretation.

There are better sources about Caravaggio than this book.

I was rather interested in the Malta angle. It is a fascinating place. And the Maltese language, which is like Arabic with a lot of its vocabulary coming from Italian (and English)--see the Wikipedia artical on the Maltese language.

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