Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where To See Caravaggio In Naples

Galleria di Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano

Nook of Naples:  Known for his love of prostitutes, young boys, and brawling, in 1606 Caravaggio killed a young man in Rome and fled to Naples.  The Colonna family gave him protection and in that year Caravaggio painted The Seven Acts of Mercy.

A few months later, he left for Malta where he found wealthy patrons, but soon was arrested and imprisoned for another brawl that left a knight seriously wounded.  Caravaggio escaped to Sicily where he received more well-paid commissions while displaying strange behaviors such as sleeping fully armed in his clothes.  After nine months, he returned to Naples to ask the Colonnas to protect him once more while he waited for a pardon from the Pope.  He then painted The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, his last picture.

Today, at least three important Caravaggio paintings are in Naples.  Seeing them can make for a charming day-trip through the city:

Galleria di Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano
Via Toledo 184
Built by architect Cosimo Fanzago in the 17th century, the Banca Commerciale Italiana bought this Palazzo in 1920.  When you first walk inside, you enter a stunning courtyard with a glass roof and opulent balconies.  Climb up two flights of marble stairs and a gallery houses Caravaggio's Martyrdom of Saint Ursula.

Pio Monte della Misericordia
Via Tribunali 253
An important charitable organization in Naples, this church houses Caravaggio's The Seven Acts of Mercy.

Via Miano 2
Once the Bourbon Royal Palace, Capodimonte is one of the finest museums in Italy.  The museum collection includes Caravaggio's The Flagellation of Christ, painted in 1607 for the di Franco Family and meant to be displayed in the Naples church of San Domenico Maggiore.  (The family, incidentally, was connected with the Confraternity of the Pio Monte della Misericordia.)

In 1610, Caravaggio took a boat from Naples to Rome in order to receive the Pope's pardon, which would be granted thanks to his powerful friends.  But he never made it, apparently dying of a fever during the journey.  In 2010 researchers exhumed remains found in a church in Ponto Ercole and, setting them to DNA and carbon dating analysis, they found that the remains were definitively Caravaggio's.


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