The Path of Humility: Caravaggio and Carlo Borromeo (Renaissance and Baroque)

The Path of Humility: Caravaggio and Carlo Borromeo (Renaissance and Baroque)

Language: English

Pages: 355

ISBN: 1433129272

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Path of Humility: Caravaggio and Carlo Borromeo establishes a fundamental relationship between the Franciscan humility of Archbishop of Milan Carlo Borromeo and the Roman sacred works of Caravaggio. This is the first book to consider and focus entirely upon these two seemingly anomalous personalities of the Counter-Reformation. The import of Caravaggio’s Lombard artistic heritage has long been seen as pivotal to the development of his sacred style, but it was not his only source of inspiration. This book seeks to enlarge the discourse surrounding Caravaggio’s style by placing him firmly in the environment of Borromean Milan, a city whose urban fabric was transformed into a metaphorical Via Crucis. This book departs from the prevailing preoccupation - the artist’s experience in Rome as fundamental to his formulation of sacred style - and toward his formative years in Borromeo’s Milan, where humility reigned supreme. This book is intended for a broad, yet specialized readership interested in Counter-Reformation art and devotion. It serves as a critical text for undergraduate and graduate art history courses on Baroque art, Caravaggio, and Counter-Reformation art.

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canvas. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. © Museo Nacional del Prado/Art Resource, NY. carlo borromeo’s milan 91 21. Simone Peterzano, Entombment, 1573–78, oil on canvas. San Fedele, Milan. Photo: Mondadori Portfolio/Electa/Art Resource, NY. 92 the path of humility: caravaggio and carlo borromeo 22. Giovanni Battista della Rovere (il Fiammenghino), San Carlo Preparing for Death at the Sacro Monte di Varallo, 1602–3, tempera on canvas. Duomo, Milan. Copyright © Veneranda Fabbrica

Exercises of the Jesuits, and the Augustinian light of grace. Although these connections have been accepted in part or collectively by many scholars as a Counter-­Reformation phenomenon that worked in concert to influence Caravaggio’s formulation of sacred style, the evidence seems inadequate. Why would a strong-­willed, belligerent, and independent young artist—as his biographers describe him—suddenly be moved by the Catholic rhetoric on images? The objective of this book is to provide some

“If art is the ape of nature, why shouldn’t [paintings] imitate it?”27 Actions, gestures, and emotions must reflect what one would see in the real world, states Francesco, for “art imitates nature, and not nature [from] art.”28 The visible, obvious displays of artistry posed an inherent danger in their potential to undermine and supersede the meaning and significance of the sacred subject. For Gilio, the artist’s skill or artifice should be directed toward the imitation of nature and truth as

reading) that Tritonio’s heirs gave Caravaggio’s Saint Francis to Cardinal del Monte, substituting it with a copy by an unknown hand.30 Caravaggio’s association with Ottavio Costa can be established through the friendship he forged with fellow artist Prospero Orsi (ca. 1558–1663), who would prove instrumental in Caravaggio’s establishment of new patrons. The artist most likely met Orsi while in the workshop of the Cavaliere d’Arpino. Ebert-­Schifferer has suggested that Orsi may have helped the

Luca. The assault did not involve Caravaggio, but he was eventually named as a witness after he returned a cloak, found in the street, that he thought belonged to the victim. The document is noteworthy for several reasons. The barber, Luca, recounted that when the man (Caravaggio) returned the cloak, it was in the presence of a certain “Costantino, who buys and resells paintings, whose shop is attached to the Madonnella next to San Luigi [dei Francesi].”113 Corradini and Marini argue that the

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