Caravaggio celebrations continue in Tuscany (from ANSA.IT)

(ANSA) – Florence – The focus of Italian festivities marking 400 years since Caravaggio’s death has shifted to Tuscany but Rome, Rimini and Milan also have events lined up for coming months. Florence is hosting two exhibitions devoted to the art of Caravaggio, while the small coastal town of Porto Ercole is running a small show looking at the man behind the work.  The first Florence exhibition, divided between two of the city’s most prestigious galleries, brings together over 100 masterpieces by Caravaggio and other artists who followed in his footsteps.  Pride of place goes to six celebrated paintings belonging to the two galleries’ own collections, the best known of which are probably Medusa and Bacchus.

The exhibition runs in the Palazzo Pitti and the Uffizi until October 17, as does the second Florence show at Villa Bardini.

This offers an equally striking but much smaller exhibition of the master’s works collected by 20th-century art historian and top Caravaggio expert Roberto Longhi. Forte Stella in Porto Ercole, the town where Caravaggio died and was buried in around mid-July 1610, maps out the main stages in the master’s life and gives visitors the first ever chance to view his remains. Following a six-month investigation, medical anthropologists in June confirmed they had identified Caravaggio’s bones to an 85% probability, laying to rest a 400-year-old mystery surrounding his final resting place. Basing their research on the most widely accepted of eight theories about his resting place, anthropologists exhumed around 30-40 sets of bones last December.

Those belonging to young men that appeared to have died in the 17th century were first subjected to carbon-dating to confirm their age and compatible fragments were then tested for high concentrations of lead and mercury, metals once common in paint. The final step was DNA testing, comparing extracts from the bones with male volunteers surnamed Merisi, believed to be descendents of Caravaggio’s brother.

The Tuscany events will be followed by three exhibitions in autumn, starting on October 23, in Rimini’s Castel Sismondo, with works on loan from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut ‘Caravaggio and other 17th-Century Painters’ will showcase 16 masterpieces depicting the ecstacy of St Francis, inspired by Caravaggio’s first religious painting completed in 1594.

Rome, which hosted a record-breakingly successful exhibition of authenticated Caravaggio creations earlier this year, will rejoin the festivities in November with an event devoted to Caravaggio’s technique. The show opening in Palazzo Venezia will examine the secrets behind his art and introduce visitors to the various theories about how he created his masterpieces. One of the exhibition’s big attractions is likely to be a full-scale re-creation of Caravaggio’s workshop in Rome, where he lived and worked for 14 years.

The workshop, located in the city’s Campo Marzio quarter, has been reconstructed using a full inventory of its contents completed in 1605, the year before Caravaggio fled Rome. A long-awaited exhibition, curated by art historian Vittorio Sgarbi, is also expected to open in November in Milan’s Diocesan Museum. ‘The Eyes of Caravaggio’ will explore his years of apprenticeship under Titian and Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The Caravaggio celebrations return to Palazzo Venezia in March 2011, with an exhibition entitled ‘Rome in the Time of Caravaggio’.

This will feature works not only by the master but also by his contemporaries and followers.

It will be centred on a number of key artworks on loan from Moscow’s Hermitage Museum, which has a remarkable collection of paintings by ‘caravaggiaschi’, artists who followed in Caravaggio’s footsteps.

The exhibition will transfer to the Hermitage later in the year.

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