Caravaggio: The Art of Realism by John VarrianoCaravaggio: The Art of Realism by John Varriano

Caravaggio: The Art of Realism

byJohn Varriano

Paperback | August 8, 2006

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The dramatic realism of Caravaggio’s art has fascinated viewers since the seventeenth century. Yet no prior monograph presents the thorough investigation of Caravaggio’s “realism” ventured in John Varriano’s remarkable book. Forgoing the “life and works” format of most earlier monographs, Varriano concentrates on uncovering the principles and practices—the intellect and the imagination—that guided Caravaggio’s eye and brush as he made some of the most controversial paintings in the history of art.

Caravaggio’s irascible personality, libertine sexual preferences, and lawless, even murderous, behavior have attracted as much heated commentary as his realism. Varriano sheds important new light on these disputes by tracing the autobiographical threads in Caravaggio’s paintings and framing these within the context of contemporary Italian culture. Ultimately, Varriano links Caravaggio’s aggressive persona and innovative methods to changes taking place throughout seventeenth-century Europe.

Caravaggio: The Art of Realism begins with a highly original investigation of the artist’s studio practices. In subsequent chapters, Varriano discusses Caravaggio’s response to the material culture of his day, his use of gesture and expression, and his eroticism and violence as well as other issues central to the painter’s legendary realism.

Caravaggio: The Art of Realism will appeal to students and the general reader as well as to specialists in the field. Varriano has a gift for presenting complex scholarship in a clear, accessible way. The book contains numerous color illustrations that will help readers experience Caravaggio’s art and follow the author’s informative discussion of such famed paintings as Love Victorious and David with the Head of Goliath.

John Varriano is Idella Plimpton Kendall Professor of Art History at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture (1986), Rome, A Literary Companion (1991), and numerous articles and exhibition catalogues on early modern Italian art. John Varriano is Idella Plimpton Kendall Professor of Art History...
Title:Caravaggio: The Art of RealismFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 10 × 8.15 × 0.84 inPublished:August 8, 2006Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271027185

ISBN - 13:9780271027180


Table of Contents


List of Illustrations



Biographical Conspectus

1. Myths of the Studio

2. Imitation and Imagination

3. The Eye of the Beholder

4. Physical Presences, Erotic Appetites, Wit

5. Violence

6. Portraits and Portrayals

7. Gesture and Expression

8. Settings and Accessories




Editorial Reviews

“[If] the reader is in search of an incisive and well-grounded reassessment of the nature of Caravaggio’s revolutionary ‘realism,’ they should read John Varriano’s engaging study . . . which cogently unpacks the various ways in which Caravaggio must have worked to orchestrate his riveting imagery.”

—John Gash, The Burlington Magazine