The Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition “The Age of Caravaggio” shows one phase, and just a little of another, of one of the most special artists who ever lived.[1] In important ways his painting is forcefully unlike what our eyes are offered in painting familiar to us, whether of our own time or of the other cultures that filter to us in quantity. He lets us know, too, that he had an unhesitating assurance as to his authority; he clearly felt that what he was saying was true and very important, and that he was completely able to say it. To be sure, the exhibition does not show the works of Caravaggio that do this in the fullest way, being almost entirely limited to the smaller canvases that are allowed to travel to loan shows. It is as if we were confronted with Joyce only through the stories in Dubliners. But that does not mean it can...


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