Caravaggio’s Crazy Life: The Paintings of a Killer (from WalksofItaly)

44jerome-1024x742In our previous post on scofflaw and artist Caravaggio (born Michelangelo Merisi), we told the story of his turbulent life up to the point when he’d committed an unforgivable crime: murder.

Caravaggio wasn’t new to legal trouble, and his powerful patrons had protected him before. But this time, it was a little trickier. Unwilling to be tried in court, the 35-year-old, instead, fled Rome.

But he desperately wanted a pardon. That might be the reason behind his painting “Saint Jerome,” currently in the Borghese Gallery in Rome, which some scholars believe was executed shortly after his crime in 1606. We know, after all, that Caravaggio sent the painting to his latest and most powerful patron, Cardinal Scipione Borghese. And we know that, more than just a depiction of a saint, it’s a depiction of a saint known for some carousing in his early days—who eventually, of course, saw the light.

Perhaps Caravaggio was trying to make a parallel here to show that he, too, could turn things around. Another hint: Although Jerome was often shown with a bit of red, here he’s swamped in (and seemingly protected by) it. And red? That’s a cardinal’s color.

Caravaggio’s “Seven Works of Mercy,” in Naples

If the painting was a request for a pardon, though, the pardon wasn’t forthcoming. At least not yet. And so Caravaggio headed south to Naples. During his 7-month stay, the artist worked on several commissions, ….. READ MORE ON WALKSOFITALY.COM


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