Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Caravaggio actually produced a relatively small number of works in his short life and with the curators' strict criteria of exhibiting only those works which have been historically ascertained to be by his own hand, this is a necessarily small show focusing on 24 masterpieces, starting with the exquisite early Basket of Fruit from the Ambrosian Library in Milan and moving through his career more or less chronologically. The Crowning with Thorns and the Deposition from the Cross actually caused bottleneck traffic jams as visitors stared transfixed; I was particularly mesmerized by The Taking of Christ, albeit momentarily before being jostled along to next room. Unfortunately, not all of the works were scheduled to be at the Scuderie for the entire duration of the exhibition so I was disappointed to have missed the Uffizi Bacchus. The presence of the stunning Flagellation of Christ, a later temporary addition to the show, more than made up for the other missing works, however. Living in Rome I am sometimes guilty of taking for granted the luxury of being able to simply drop by San Luigi dei Francesi and Santa Maria del Popolo and see the extraordinary works that Caravaggio made for those churches – they were not moved for the exhibition with visitors invited instead to go and see them in situ. Similarly, when I lived in London, Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus was a painting I would often visit at the National Gallery and I got a real thrill from seeing that once so familiar painting again in Rome.
Caravaggio at the Scuderie del Quirinale continues until 13 June 2010. The gallery will remain open all night long without a break for the final weekend from 9.00am on Saturday morning through to Sunday evening at 10.00pm.