In an engaging and informed text, John T. Spike explores in detail Caravaggio's scandalous life and provocative work. Placing Caravaggio within the broad panorama of society and ideas at the turn of the 17th century, the author sets a richly detailed stage for an artist who has been called 'the first modern painter'. Caravaggio (1571-1610) reflected in his canvases his own desires and spiritual crises to an extent no one ever had imagined possible, and he shocked his contemporaries by portraying the saints and virgins of Christianity with the faces and bodies of his companions and lovers in Rome's demimonde. Accompanying the book is a critical catalogue on CD-ROM in which all of Caravaggio's extant paintings, as well as lost and rejected works, are thoroughly described. Each entry specifies the works medium, dimensions, location, and provenance, and provides an annotated bibliography of sources. Most of the entries conclude with a brief technical analysis. Much of this scientific data, of prime importance for attribution and dating, has not previously been published.
With its fresh insights, as well as judicious readings of the documents and the physical evidence of the paintings themselves, Caravaggio is the most thorough study on the artist to date, and it will no doubt remain a definitive monograph for many years to come. The revised edition will include a new Preface and updated bibliography.
John T. Spike, an internationally respected critic and historian of art, received his doctorate from Harvard. He has published major books on artists of the Florentine Renaissance, including "Masaccio" and "Fra Angelico" (Abbeville Press). John and Michele Spike and their son Nicolas have lived in Florence since 1989.