Features October 2012
The real Caravaggio?
On the artist, his techniques, and the question of originality.
Of all the major Italian cities, Milan suffered the cruelest injuries during the last war by far: Allied bombardments laid waste to its industrial complexes and gutted its center; the liberation in 1945 delivered to its people the ghoulish spectacle of Mussolini & Co.’s cadavers swinging, heads down, in Piazzale Loreto; well-armed bands of Communist irregulars almost plunged the entire region into all-out civil war. Miraculously, catastrophe was averted and the trauma passed. By 1951, Milan had become the engine of the country’s spectacular post-war recovery—a rebirth in many ways symbolized, that year, by an ambitious and historic exhibition devoted to Lombardy’s greatest painter, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610). Mounted in the heavily bomb-scarred Royal Palace hard by the Duomo, the undertaking was a tribute to, as well as the singular achievement of, the art historian and critic Roberto Longhi. Ever since his...
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