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Painting Caravaggio "The Kiss of Judas": the story of writing and the meaning of the canvas

Michelangelo Caravaggio is an artist of the Baroque period. His skill in operating with light and the imposition of shadows, as well as maximum realism in conjunction with the tragic expression of characters lead the master to the forefront. Caravaggio was recognized during his lifetime. The rich and powerful families of Italy were invited to paint the popular artist. He had his disciples and followers who tried to draw in the same manner. They are called "caravagists". This inheritance gave rise to a large number of supposedly "copyright copies." And the picture "Kiss of Judas" is no exception. One of them has an interesting story in Odessa. About her, as well as about the original canvas, read this article.

The theme of taking Christ in custody

In the Middle Ages, frescoes and church paintings were the "Bible for the illiterate." But about the last days of Christ, the descriptions of the Gospels diverge. John claims that Jesus Himself went out to meet the armed detachment and asked: "Who are you looking for?" And when He called, those who came to Him to arrest "fell to the ground" (Jn 18: 6). Three other evangelists tell a very different story. A troop of soldiers led Judas to the Garden of Gethsemane . Documents with photographs then were not, and Christ outwardly looked like James the Younger (in the Gospels he is also called the brother of Jesus). Therefore, the agreement was as follows: whom Judas should kiss, he must be arrested. To this theme of treachery, many artists have addressed, beginning with Giotto. The fresco of this master in Padua became a Christmatic example. So there was a tradition of portraying Judas always in profile and with a black halo. But the picture of Caravaggio makes us look differently at events that happened two thousand years ago.

History of writing

Approximately in 1602, the aristocratic Roman clan of Mattei invited a fashionable artist at that time. The family owned a small picture gallery. The Negciants wanted to get the creation of a popular master at any price. Caravaggio settled in the palace of Mattei and received a deposit for work. The topic for the picture, presumably, was ordered by one of the family members - Cardinal Girolamo. And it was written in a record short time - in just thirty days. But the fee for the work of the master was unprecedented - one hundred and twenty five scudo. Painting Caravaggio "Kiss of Judas" for a long time was a pearl in the family meeting of Mattei. It is known that the master made his own hand-made copies of his successful works. In addition, he was echoed by the pupils of his school. Now there are twelve canvases that repeat the original.

Composition of the canvas "Kiss of Judas"

The picture of Caravaggio is written on an elongated canvas. The artist's innovation is manifested in the fact that the figures of people are not shown in full growth, but by three quarters. Caravaggio remains true to himself in the game with light. The main radiance comes from the source that is invisible to the viewer, which is in the upper left corner. But there is also a smaller light - a lantern, which is held by a young man on the right. Two sources, echoing each other in the darkness of the night, give all the action a special tragedy. One hand of Judas is somewhat shortened. This is immediately evident, since the remaining figures are executed with surprising realism. Insufficient skill of the artist? Art critics believe that this is a conscious step. So the artist wanted to show the moral ugliness of a man who raised his hand to his Teacher. Therefore, the canvas is not called "Taking Christ into custody", but "Kiss of Judas". Painting Caravaggio focuses specifically on the topic of betrayal. The last days of Jesus at the same time go into the background.

The picture of Caravaggio: lost and newly found

The Mattei family owned the canvas for about two hundred years. Over time, the fashion changed, brutal realism and the vortex of baroque passions gave way to the idealistic, antiquity-copying compositions of the era of classicism. The picture of Caravaggio lost its authorship in the documents of the Mattei family. When the descendants of this kind began to experience financial difficulties, they decided to sell this painting. The picture was bought by a member of the British Parliament Hamilton Nizbet as a work by the Dutch artist Gerard van Honthorst. In 1921, the last representative of this Scottish family died, and the canvas under the same authorship was bought from the auction by John Kemp. He resold it to Irish Maria Leigh-Wilson, who in 1934 presented a picture of the Jesuit consistory in Dublin. Since the canvas needed restoration, the monks invited for this work a specialist Sergio Benedetti from the National Gallery of Ireland. He identified the true author. Now the canvas can be seen in Dublin, in the National Gallery.

The Odessa copy

When there was a fashion for Michelangelo Caravaggio, the pictures of this master were copied both by himself and his disciples and followers. A sample, kept in the collection of the Museum of Western European and Eastern Art in Odessa, was ordered by the brother of the owner of the original, Asdrubale Mattei. This is evidenced by a record in its accounting documents. Already ten years after the death of the illustrious master, he paid for the copying of his creation to the Italian artist Giovanni di Atilli. The Odessa Museum, acquiring a painting from the Mattei family, insisted that it was the original. Probably, this was the reason for the theft. The Odessa canvas was stolen in July 2008. However, two years later the picture was taken from the hands of criminals in Berlin.

Riddles of the picture

Creativity Caravaggio conceals a lot of secrets that have not yet been uncovered by researchers. And the "Kiss of Judas" is no exception. It is believed that in one of the characters, a man with a lantern in his hands, the artist captures himself. And in this self-portrait there is nothing of vanity. Rather, on the contrary: the artist promotes the idea that all of humanity, and he, too, are guilty of the Passion of Christ.

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