Art Essay: Caravaggio's Last Two Paintings

Date:  2021-06-15 16:14:43
2 pages  (626 words)
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George Washington University
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This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Caravaggio's work is usually associated with darkness, and he typically used the stylistic device of contrasting lights and darks strongly. In this given last two pieces of Caravaggio, there is evident of more condensed values where the forms of the figures were modeled and brought down to an emotional intensity. Caravaggio's style and technique of paintings over the ages were criticized for its pure indecorous naturalism; his paintings were characterized by overly dramatic effects and also less sophisticated techniques. (Coleman, 2015) According to the idea of death about Caravaggio pieces, the death of Saint Ursula and the Denial of Saint Peter are as a result of actions that had been taken to soon and too quickly without thinking about the consequences. According to my opinion concerning the death of Saint Ursula, Caravaggio seems to believe that death comes as a result of quick actions that were not thought of clearly and also for not accepting the demands of those in power.

Caravaggio was highly praised for his intense realism and also naturalism and delivered his paintings just as his eyes saw the reality thus bringing about all the natural flaws and defects instead of just an average idealized production. (Jensen, 2016) According to the two last paintings, the death of both saints was posed by the firm belief of their religion, and they stood for what they believe was right. In relation to Caravaggio, the color effects that were used in his paints highly suggested the influence of the Venetian in using light and dark for contrast. The two works he did bring about a deeper interpretation of the religious subject whereby the biblical aspect was translated into a popular term.

The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula painting shows that the saint is perplexed and shocked as she contemplates the death of the 11,000 virgins and her death too, in the denial of saint peter piece it is seen that Peter reveals a gesture of guilt and denial simultaneously (Coleman, 2015). It can be concluded that the painter was showing doubt about the religion subject since the two saints were indicating the lack of confidence to what caused their deaths which are standing for their faith.

The last two paintings can be related to the life that Caravaggio was lately living; he was a successful artistic with a unique talent, but also he was a criminal who highly engaged in breaking the baroque era rules of law. (Jensen, 2016) Before doing his last two paintings he was assaulted, and his face was disfigured and hence interfering with his vision only salvation from the pope would have helped him from this deadly world. He expressed the theme of guilt and doom as seen in the two paintings, the denial of Saint Peter and the Martyrdom of Saint Ursula is parallel to each other in that they interprets the tragic events which were almost similar to the life the painter was living. The ideas of guilt and doom brought about by Caravaggio can be used by the modern viewer to interpret the contrasting nature of light and dark to bring about various emotions. (Coleman, 2015)

The last two paintings can be applied in the regular aspects of religion since they bring about the realistic and naturalism aspect that truly happens to the people who stand for their religion. Although the two saints were looking perplexed as they watched their deaths they remained strong and never submitted to the will of the people, the contrasting nature of light and dark brings about the dark side the persecutors live compared to the lighter life by the saints.


Work cited

Coleman, Cara. "Inspiring Piety: The influence of Caravaggios paintings in Santa Maria del Popolo." (2015).

Jensen, Jay W. "Reform and rebellion in Italian painting: Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio." (2016).



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