“Caravaggio or Back side of the Canvas”
This painting tells us about two realities of art. Painting, as a masterpiece, part of our cultural heritage and about an artist who created the masterpiece and whose image often stays “behind the canvas”, unseen by a wide audience .
What is it like to be an artist? What is it like to be blessed with the gift to see and to feel?
This painting combines two fragments of paintings by the Italian genius Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
From the canvas, young Bacchus is looking at us and holding out a glass of wine, invites us to join his cheerful company. The painting “Bacchus” was painted in one of the most serene periods of the artist’s life and attracts the eye with the beauty of a young man, the velvety depth of a glass of red wine and the beauty of ripened fruits.
Two strong verticals (one is the line of the frame and another – stretcher bar) compositionally divide the painting and separate the carefree Bacchus from the back of the canvas, where the artist’s palette rests. In general, with the exception of art collectors and meticulous museum workers, the viewer is rarely interested in the back of the canvas. And in vain… often, it is the “back” that can tell about all the long-term geographical movements of the painting, about its owners and much more. Here, behind the back of the canvas, we see a palette on which the artist painted his self-portrait. This rough sketch of a self-portrait of Merisi da Caravaggio is taken from the painting “David with the Head of Goliath”.
The hectic life of the 38-year-old genius is coming to the end. Outlawed for the murder of Ranuccio Tomassoni, the artist is tired of wandering around the world and paints the picture “David with the Head of Goliath”, which he hopes to present to the omnipotent Scipione Borghese as a plea for mercy.
A few weeks after the mysterious death of a young artist, a decree will be issued on his pardon, and a little later, Cardinal Scipione Borghese will receive the gift of Caravaggio, his painting “David with the Head of Goliath” and will look at this masterpiece with sadness for a very long time.