Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome (in Ottawa!)

The National Gallery of Canada

Mike Cullen is a young public servant who is also a regular contributor to (Cult)ure Magazine as a music editorialist. His passions include music, coffee, writing, travel and comic books.

Following up on a fantastic exhibit on Raphael last year, the National Gallery of Canada  is now showcasing a new exhibit entitled “Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome”, which recently opened with much fanfare.

The exhibit takes a fascinating look at the work of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, and how his stylistic interpretation of the real world and the profane dramatically changed how renaissance art was not only produced, but also viewed.

The National Gallery says this exhibit is “five years in the making” and that it encompasses not only the career of Caravaggio, but some thirty-one of his followers/imitators. I have no critical eye when it comes to art, but this exhibit was beyond fantastic. Curators and staff at the gallery have done a fantastic job of not only laying out the art in the space provided, but also an excellent analysis on his impact on the art world.

There was a mix of reality and fantastical in his work, such as his piece “The Musicians” where one can see the inclusion of Cupid in the upper left-hand corner of the painting.

The Musicians, Caravaggio

Caravaggio was also the master of subtlety. In “The Gypsy Fortune Teller”, one can observe a young man having his palm read, but if you look closely, the man is so transfixed by the woman, that he doesn’t even notice that she has begun to slip the ring off his finger.

The Gypsy Fortune Teller, Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s followers were also well displayed, and two of my favourite pieces in the exhibit included “The Lute Player” by Rombouts, and “Fortune Teller With Soldier” by Valentin de Boulogne.

The Lute Player, Rombouts

The “Fortune Teller With Soldier” depicts a man who is trying to pick-pocket a fortune teller while he in turn is pick-pocketed by a young child; the kind of slice of life depiction that Caravaggio himself was constantly trying to illustrate during his short career.

Fortune Teller With Soldier, Boulogne

This fantastic special exhibition is at the National Gallery until September 11, 2011 and I highly encourage anyone to go see it. You do not have to be an art snob to truly appreciate the beauty of this work; in fact, it’s humour and life make it easily accessible to anyone wishing to see some great works of art.

Thanks for the great post Mike! Interested in checking out the Caravaggio exhibit? Click here for more details.