Rebuilding The Renaissance

Rebuilding The Renaissance

This podcast will explore the development of the art, architecture, culture and history in Italy, from ancient Roman times through the Renaissance. Listeners will develop an understanding of Italy’s role in the development of Western civilization and an ability to appreciate and understand works of art in their historical context.

Episodes

July 17, 2024 20 mins

In 1608, the architect Carlo Maderno was commissioned by Pope Paul V to complete the Basilica of St. Peter by building its façade. That façade has been criticized for centuries for looking more like a palace façade than a church façade because of its emphasis on horizontality. This podcast explores the history and design of the of the most important church front in the world!

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From Caravaggio’s courtesan models to the “Michelangelo” kitchen drawing going up for sale for €8M, to the restoration of Masaccio’s “Holy Trinity” and Brancacci Chapel frescoes, to my recommendations for art historical journals, to moving massive canvas paintings and much, much more – this episode answers the very questions that you ask me about the great art, artists, and history of the Italian Renaissance!

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In the summer of 1610, allegedly after obtaining a papal pardon for his crime of murder, Caravaggio headed back to Rome. But he would never make it to Rome nor enjoy his reacquired freedom. Instead, he would die under rather mysterious circumstances in southern Tuscany.  This podcast explores the murky evidence and various conspiracy theories surrounding the artist’s death.

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Located in the Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano in Naples, Caravaggio’s “Martyrdom of St. Ursula” is considered the great artist’s last painting. Depicting the moment when St. Ursula is shot at close range by an arrow and including a self-portrait of the artist in the background, the painting marks a return to Caravaggio’s earlier Roman style.

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In the fall of 1609, shortly after returning to Naples in hopes of receiving a papal pardon, Caravaggio was ambushed by four men who severely disfigured his face. It was a few months later that Caravaggio painted the “Denial of St. Peter,” which was one of his last two paintings and that perhaps reflects the wounded condition of the artist.

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Painted for the Capuchin fathers at the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Messina, Sicily, in 1609, Caravaggio’s “Adoration of the Shepherds” is a moving spiritual scene within an impoverished and dilapidated setting.

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After spending some time in Siracusa, Sicily, Caravaggio – still on the run from the Knights of Malta - headed north to the town of Messina. There he painted another of his hauntingly beautiful late works, which, in this case, depicts Christ bringing Lazarus back from the dead. The disturbingly realistic figure of the dead Lazarus led to the popular belief that Caravaggio had exhumated a corpse to serve as his model.

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After his daring escape from the island of Malta, Caravaggio went to Siracusa, Siscily. There he painted one of his most haunting works – the “Burial of St. Lucy.” An oppressive yellowish light illuminates the macabre burial of the early Christian martyr whose head almost looks detached from its body.

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After having been invested into the Knights of Malta and producing two of his most beautiful paintings while he was on the island, Caravaggio finally seemed to have cleaned up his act. But, on the night of August 28, 1608, Caravaggio was involved in a near fatal assault on a superior officer and imprisoned. After a daring escape from Malta, Caravaggio now found himself a fugitive from justice twice over. Discover what went wrong in...

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While in Malta in 1608, Caravaggio painted one of his most sensational paintings – “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist.” Measuring 12ft. (3.7n) x 17ft. (5.2m), the massive oil on canvas work depicts the moment after the executioner had used his sword to decapitate the Baptist. We now see him reaching for his knife to complete the gruesome act, and perhaps even more gruesomely, Caravaggio has used the blood o...

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Caravaggio, still a fugitive from justice, left Naples for Malta in the second half of 1607 most likely because the sensational paintings he produced in Naples were drawing too much attention to him. When he arrived in Malta, he was inducted into the brotherhood and apparently changed his ways. One of the paintings that he produced while in Malta was his beautiful “Sleeping Cupid,” (today in the Pitti Palace in...

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Painted in 1607 while Caravaggio was in Naples, Italy, trying to elude the long arm of papal law for the murder he committed in Rome, the “Madonna of the Rosary” is Caravaggio’s most standard Baroque painting. While the patron is unknown, curiously, the painting went up for sale a few months after being completed perhaps indicating an unsatisfied client.

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Located in the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, Italy, Caravaggio painted the “Flagellation” in 1607 while he was hiding out in Naples because he was wanted for murder in Rome. The “Flagellation” is dramatically sadistic scene of imminent torture set – like so many of Caravaggio’s paintings - in a dark shallow theatrical space.

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When Caravaggio arrived in Naples as a fugitive on the run from papal justice in 1606, he immediately began to receive commissions. One of his first was for a charitable organization called the “Pio Monte della Misericordia.” This organization had just built a church with seven altars upon which seven separate paintings illustrating the “Seven Acts of Mercy” were to be placed. In true impetuous Caravaggio fashi...

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From similar faces in the Scrovegni Chapel, to identifying Judas in Veronese’s “Feast in the House of Levi,” to the symbolic gestures of the apostles in Caravaggio’s “Supper at Emmaus,” to the “Isleworth Mona Lisa,” to my advice to a young person about life and much, much more - this episode Read more

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Painted shortly after Caravaggio killed a man in Rome and was a fugitive from justice, the “David with the Head of Goliath” is today located in the Borghese Gallery in Rome, Italy. The painting was given to Cardinal Scipione Borghese in hopes that he could convince his uncle, Pope Paul V, to pardon Caravaggio who was wanted dead or alive.

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Located in the Brera Gallery in Milan, Italy, Caravaggio’s 2nd “Supper at Emmaus” was painted in the immediate aftermath of Caravaggio’s murder of Ranuccio Tommasoni on the streets of Rome. A wounded Caravaggio was a fugitive from justice and hiding out from the authorities in the hills surrounding Rome when he painted his 2nd “Supper”.  The painting clearly reflects the dramatically chang...

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O May 28, 1606, Caravaggio stabbed and killed a man named Ranuccio Tommasoni in Rome, allegedly over an unpaid wager. Discover the details of the homicide that changed Caravaggio’s life forever and turned him into a fugitive from justice.

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In 1605, Caravaggio painted an image of St. Jerome for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, and the painting is still located in the Borghese Gallery in Rome, Italy. Caravaggio’s depiction of the Father of the Church is a very quiet and intimate one, where we see a scholar in a sparsely furnished room consumed with the enormous task of translating the Hebrew Bible into Latin.

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Painted in 1605 for the chapel of the Papal grooms, known as “Palafrenieri,” in the new Basilica of St. Peter, Caravaggio’s painting was removed after only a few days because it was considered indecorous. The stark nudity of the Christ Child, the bulging breasts of the Virgin Mary (who was modeled from a well-known prostitute!) and the unflattering representation of St. Anne (patron saint of the grooms) were mo...

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