Monday, November 12, 2012

Pallazo Barberini

Continuing our journey through Rome by Caravaggios, we go next to the Palazzo Barbarini, where we saw some pretty fantastic things, including, possibly, my favorite Caravaggio of all!

First we saw Raphael's La Fornarina, a gorgeous portrait of his lover.  I realized that I had NEVER seen a good reproduction of it because in person it was really fantastic - just a reminder of how important it is to see the real thing if you can...  Her little arm band is more blue, and it reads "Raphael Vrbinus" (Raphael of Urbino). 

 The Barbarini palace also has two Caravaggios, a Judith and Holofernes and Narcissus.  Narcissus, you may recall, was so entranced by his own beautiful reflection in a pool of water his fell in and drowned.  So, let that be a lesson to you.
 I am mildly obsessed with the story of Judith and I love looking at the many interpretations of her heroine-ness.   The story goes like this - Judith, a Jewish widow, lives in this town that is being terrorized by Holofernes.  He's camped outside the town, keeping them all under siege, and they're pretty much doomed until Judith and her maid go down to his tent, get him drunk and cut off his head.  Over the years, artists have painted her as triumphant, a seductrice, drunk on her own power, businesslike, etc (and her maid, don't get me started!)  I love how Caravaggio paints her - pretty grossed out by the deed at hand, but determined.  Her maid's next to her with this crazy look in her eye like she's seen it all before...  Holofernes is captured the millisecond before life exists his body - he's surprised, his HEAD is practically DETACHED, but he's still got energy in his arms.  It's easy to image that viewing this painting in the early 17th c (it was finished in 1599) would be like watching a entire season of True Blood today.

maid, detail

If you're interested, I'm also totally bonkers over Klimt's Judith and Franz von Stuck's, and, of course, Artemisia Gentileschi's.

That brings our Caravaggio count to 9!  BTW, I heard some people have had trouble commenting on my blog - I took away the captcha, so it should be easier now.  Let me know if you have any trouble!

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