Martha and Mary Magdalene by Caravaggio Essay

Martha and Mary Magdalene by Caravaggio Essay

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The Painting Martha and Mary Magdalene is one of the many masterpieces in the DIA’s collection in Detroit. Although there is much more to understanding a work of art then just looking at it. In order to understand a piece, you have to understand the Artist, the time period, and the symbols in that painting that may have very different meaning today.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio better known as simply Caravaggio was an Italian Baroque master painter born in Italy around 1571. After he apprenticed with a painter in Milan, he moved to Rome, where he lived for most of his life. His work influenced painters around Europe. He’s most known for his gruesome subjects and use of Tenebrism, which was a technique that used heavy shadow to emphasize light areas. His life was filled with great controversy. He was known for being violent, with “drastic mood swings and a love for drinking and gambling”. (N.A., "Caravaggio”) In 1606, Caravaggio killed a Roman pimp named Ranuccio Tomassoni. Historians don’t know why Caravaggio killed him only that Caravaggio fled Rome after the incident. His violence didn’t stop until his death in 1610. The cause of his death was unknown until 2010, when a team of scientists discovered high levels of lead that would have driven him mad.
‘Martha and Mary Magdalene’ sometimes known as ‘Martha Reproving Mary’ or ‘The Conversion of the Magdalene’ was painted by Caravaggio in 1595 and completed in 1596. The piece was done in oil and tempera on canvas, measuring at 39 and three eights by 53 inches. Art historians believed it to be a copy until the 1970’s. It wasn’t until after, that the DIA purchased this painting in 1974, where it has resided since. This composition is said to be where the artist has fully devel...

... middle of paper ...

...rtha and Mary Magdalene” will never be fully understood. Although with a little history and some digging, finding a deeper appreciation for the piece isn’t too hard.

Work Cited
Adamo, Rossella Vodret, and Michelangelo Merisi Da Caravaggio. Caravaggio: The Complete Works. Cinisello Balsamo, Milano: Silvana, 2010. Print.
"Caravaggio." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Mar 29 2014, 03:40
Carroll, James. "Who Was Mary Magdalene?" SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE. N.p., June 2006. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Ebert-Schifferer, S. Caravaggio: The Artist and His Work. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2012. Print.
Schauer, Julie. "Artventures." : Caravaggio and the Moment of Mary Magdalen. N.P., 5 Dec. 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Marandel, J. Patrice, Gianni Papi, and Amy Walsh. Caravaggio and His Legacy. Los Angeles: Prestel, 2012. Print.

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