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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Caravaggio´s TechniqueApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-08-19 16:30:15 ... Most recent comment 2017-08-20 01:54:54
    Oil Paint Art Conservation Topics


    Perhaps this is out of the scope of the conservator, but I was looking at some very high res scans of a Caravaggio and looking for some professional insight into his working methods. Here is the scan:

    I know that reverse engineering a painting is difficult, but perhaps you have come across some convincing interpretations of how caaravaggio built his paintings- questions of source and optical devices aside, and I've read about the ambiguity of the incised lines- but can we speculate or measure his choice of grounds, layering process, glazing, mediums, working dark to light, etc? And this is obviously subject to change across works, but in this Bacchus, can you tell how he laid down paint to get to this end?

    His modelling of flesh tone seems 'ponced' or stippled on with a glaze, it is so delicate and doesn't seem to have any of the brush marks the lights have. 

    I've been reading V. Elliot´s Traditional Oil Painting, and he does some scholarly recreations of paintings, such as Bouguereau. Is there anyone that has does a similar analysis and receation of Caravaggio, that is accepted (I've seen some bad ones, and the work doesn't seem based on a grisaille to me)?

    Thank YOU!

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​This is a question that could take days to answer :) But that being said we will do our best to reach out to a handful of Caravaggio experts who specialize in technical art history. In the meantime I highly recommend Larry Keith's article (available for free) on the paintings at the National Gallery in your instance based on the link you sent I would pay more attention to the last two entries as these are more fully painted as opposed to the first painting that Keith discusses in the article but honestly the entire article is worth reading. The second article by Pheobe Dent Weil is also pretty decent. I am also attaching a list of other books that are amazing references but some are in Italian...however the 2015 text is amazing and to my knowledge one of the most comprehensive texts to date regrading Caravaggio's materials and technique.

    "Three paintings by Caravaggio," by Larry Keith, National Gallery of Art Technical Bulletin 19, 37-51.

    "Technical Art History and Archeometry II: An Exploration of Caravaggio's Painting Techniques," by Pheobe Dent Weil, Revista Brasileira de Arqueometria, Restauração e Conservação. Vol.1, No.3, pp. 106 – 110.

    Caravaggio's Painting Technique: Proceedings of the CHARISMA Workshop, edited by Marco Ciatti and Brunetto Giovanni Brunetti (Nardini Editore, 2012).

    Caravaggio: La Reurrezione di Lazzaro, edited by Dalia Radeglia (Palombi Editori, 2012).

    Caravaggio: La Cappella Contarelli, edited by Marco Cardinali and Maria Beatrice de Ruggieri (Rome: Munus – L'Erma, di Bretschneider, 2011).

    Caravaggio. Opere a Roma. Tecnica e Stile. Saggi. Works in Rome. Technique and Style, edited by Marco Cardinali, Maria Beatrice de Ruggieri, Rossella Vodret, and Giulia Silvia Ghia (Cinisello Balsamo, 2016).

    "Caravaggio's underdrawing: a "Quest for the Grail"?" by Roberto Bellucci, Cecilia Frosinini, and Luca Pezzati. In Book. Studying old master paintings: technology and practice: the National Gallery Technical Bulletin 30th anniversary conference postprints. Spring, Marika (Editor). Archetype Publications Ltd., London, United Kingdom (2011) pp. 118-124.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2017-08-20 00:37:18
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thanks for the quick touch back and plentiful references. I'll be devouring this material!

    2017-08-20 01:54:54

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