Rest on the way to Egypt by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Rest on the way to Egypt by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Caravaggio is an outstanding representative of the Italian culture of the late Renaissance period “seicenco”. The main feature of the art of this period is the desire of artists to get closer to their reality in their work. The artist was born in the vicinity of Bergamo, studied in Milan with the painter Simone Peterzano, who considered himself a follower of Titian.

Twenty-year-old boy Caravaggio moved to Rome, where he remained until 1606, when, accidentally killing a young man in a fight, he fled to Naples, then to the island of Malta and to Sicily. He died on his return to Rome after receiving a pardon on behalf of the Pope.

One of his first paintings, “Rest on his way to Egypt,” depicts a scene from Holy Scripture against the backdrop of the usual landscape, as if saying that there is no difference between the feelings of the real and the divine. The figures are placed very simply, without any compositional sophistication and significance. He does not idealize the images. His Madonna is tired and asleep. Joseph, an old and awkward peasant, sits on a sack. At his feet lies a braided bottle for wine, beside it there is an ass, and only the beautiful figure of a young angel in a snow-white veil turns reality into a poetic reality, an idyll.

The picture is devoid of spatial contrivances: close objects in the foreground – stones and grass – are written out to the smallest detail, and the remote ones are combined with a haze of light and air. Harmony and unity are transmitted and color. The central bright spot of the elegant body of the angel looks even brighter among the surrounding light green, light brown and silvery tones. Poetry, says Caravaggio, is not a fantastic fiction, but an expression of the inner life of a person. It does not rise above reality, but lies within it.

Historical paintings are dedicated to the paintings of Capella Cantarelli in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. The painting “Saint Matthew with the Angel” was written for the altar, but was rejected by the clergy as too realistic. It is built on contrasts: the relationship of light and shadow, the old apostle and young angel, the large, dirt-stained legs in the foreground and the luminous wings of the angel in the depths.

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