Caravaggio stands alone in new Rome exhibit

Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:49pm EST
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By Ella Ide

ROME (Reuters) - A new Caravaggio exhibition has opened in Rome to mark the 400th anniversary of the Baroque master's death and to re-focus attention on his artistic prowess rather than his notoriously wild life.

"This is pure Caravaggio, the most inspiring of his works separated from the myths surrounding his life and collected together in celebration of his artistic mastery," Claudio Strinati, head of Rome's museums authority, told Reuters.

Michelangelo Merisi, who was known as Caravaggio, pioneered the Baroque painting technique of contrasting light and dark known as "chiaroscuro." Legend has it that he died on his way to Rome to seek pardon for killing a man in a brawl.

Twenty-four of his paintings have been brought together from museums worldwide for the exhibit at Rome's Scuderie del Quirinale museum that opened on Saturday. It has already accepted over 60,000 advance reservations.

"Many works have been falsely attributed to Caravaggio over the years," said Strinati, the brains behind the show.

"We have chosen paintings that are of unquestionable authenticity -- just those that have original certificates from the 16th century or are mentioned in books by historians of the time who knew him personally."

The exhibition is the first since World War II that focuses exclusively on the Baroque master, rather than placing his paintings alongside those of artists who inspired him or followed in his footsteps.

"The idea was to create a setting that echoed the artist's style, as if it had been organized by Caravaggio himself," Strinati said.   Continued...

<p>A security guard stands in front of Caravaggio's "The Annunciation" during an exhibition to celebrate the Baroque master on the 400th anniversary of his death at the Scuderie del Quirinale building in Rome February 19, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi</p>