by Patrick Hunt
In an engaging and informed text, John T. Spike explores in detail Caravaggio’s scandalous life and provocative work. Placing Caravaggio within the broad panorama of society and ideas at the turn of the 17th century, the author sets a richly detailed stage for an artist who has been called ‘the first modern painter’. Caravaggio (1571-1610) reflected in his canvases his own desires and spiritual crises to an extent no one ever had imagined possible, and he shocked his contemporaries by portraying the saints and virgins of Christianity with the faces and bodies of his companions and lovers in Rome’s demimonde. Accompanying the book is a critical catalogue on CD-ROM in which all of Caravaggio’s extant paintings, as well as lost and rejected works, are thoroughly described. Each entry specifies the works medium, dimensions, location, and provenance, and provides an annotated bibliography of sources. Most of the entries conclude with a brief technical analysis. Much of this scientific data, of prime importance for attribution and dating, has not previously been published. With its fresh insights, as well as judicious readings of the documents and the physical evidence of the paintings themselves, Caravaggio is the most thorough study on the artist to date, and it will no doubt remain a definitive monograph for many years to come. The revised edition will include a new Preface and updated bibliography.
Patrick Hunt gained his PhD at the University of London and works as a classical archaeologist and teacher of Humanities at Stanford University, California. Additionally, he is a published poet, classical music composer, and illustrator, including contributing the illustrations to Richard Martin’s Myth of the Ancient Greeks (Penguin). Hunt’s wide-ranging professional and personal scholarship allows him to interpret Caravaggio’s complicated religious and classical imagery while anchoring his art in his life.
‘…a strong narrative and excellent illustrations for a bargain price.’
— The Independent
‘…the book is one in a series of useful short biographies’
— The Times of London
Publication Date: 28 July 2004