Caravaggio: Art, Knighthood, and Malta
Midsea Books for the History of Art Programme, University of Malta, 2006 - Chivalry - 138 pages
Caravaggio's sojourn on the island of Malta in 1607-08 is one of the most fascinating episodes in Baroque art. The painter had committed a murder in Rome in May 1606 and subsequently fled to Naples, where he soon became well-known for his gritty, naturalistic altarpieces. Suddenly, in the early summer of 1607, he decided to leave his thriving Neapolitan studio for the newly built city of Valletta, the headquarters of the Knights of Malta. The chance to obtain a knighthood and redeem himself for his Roman crime was no doubt foremost in his mind.
Written by two leading authorities in the field, this richly illustrated book tells the story of Caravaggio's voyage to Malta, his interactions with the Knights and their leader, Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, and the magnificent paintings he made for them. Among the works he produced on the island are the Beheading of St John the Baptist - his largest and only signed picture - and the St Jerome Writing, a canvas of exceptional pyschological force.
The book presents new iconographic, technical, and stylistic analyses of all of the Maltese pictures as well as two chapters devoted to discussions of Caravaggio's importance in the history of art and the chronological problems in his late works. Based on original archival research, this study also includes an account of Caravaggio's crime in Malta, his imprisonment, and his daring escape to Sicily.