The Lute Player by Caravaggio

On 29 April 2020, the Galleria Borghese opens an exhibition dedicated to the comparison between the two versions of the Lute Player (Suonatore di liuto), one performed for Benedict and Vincenzo Giustiniani, from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (recently restored); the one commissioned by Francesco Maria Del Monte (formerly in Badminton House, Gloucestershire).


To reinforce the effect of comparison of the two artworks, by inserting it in the extraordinary stylistic development of Caravaggio, the two lute Musicians will be displayed along with the six masterpieces of the Borghese collection in a unique environment.

Eight works will therefore be brought together that offer the exceptional circumstance of going through the entire existence of Caravaggio, from the first certain work in the collection, the Sick Bacchus, to the last one he had with him before he died

This path through all the stylistic changes and technical and executive matters will give an opportunity to Caravaggio studies to define the dating of the two versions of the Lute Player. Caravaggio has repeatedly measured himself with this iconographic theme, inducing variations that reveal not only the nature and preferences of the clients but also, as the diagnostic investigations seem to confirm, aspects of the executive practice of his painting, which is never the same.

The exhibition will also make it possible to test the method of the Caravaggio Research Institute, an international project aimed at creating an integrated digital platform in which to share on a scientific level all the data relating to Caravaggio’s works of art for their comparison.

The exhibition will have a second stage in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg from September

About Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi (Michele Angelo Merigi or Amerighi) da Caravaggio, known essentially as Caravaggio, was an Italian painter active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily from the early 1590s to 1610. Additionally, he is known as the “Bad Boy of the Baroque”, who expressed significant moments and scenes, frequently featuring violent struggles, torment, and death.

He hated each kind of Idealism and turned into the leader of Naturalism in portray. Moreover, he received a style of strong contrasts of light and shadow, laid on with a kind of fierceness, expressive of that angry temper that drove the artist to submit a murder in a betting battle in Rome: he murdered Ranuccio Tomassoni on 29 May 1606.

To preserve a strategic distance from the results of his wrongdoing, he fled to Naples and to Malta, where he was detained for another endeavor to vindicate a quarrel. Getting away to Sicily, he was assaulted by a party sent in pursuit of him and truly injured. Then, being absolved, he set out for Rome; however, having been captured mistakenly before his landing, and after that released, and left to shift for himself in excessive warmth, and as yet experiencing wounds and hardships, he passed on of fever on the shoreline at Pontercole in 1610.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,
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Author: Caravaggio


Caravaggio (1571-1610), or Michelangelo Merisi, was an Italian painter considered one of the leading influencers of modern painting. His artworks combine a realistic perception of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, which had a developmental impact on Baroque painting. Caravaggio utilized close physical observation with a dramatic use of chiaroscuro, known as tenebrism. In addition, he made the method of a dominant stylistic element, obscuring shadows and transfixing subjects in bright shafts of light.

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