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The Path of Humility

Caravaggio and Carlo Borromeo


Anne H. Muraoka

The Path of Humility: Caravaggio and Carlo Borromeo establishes a fundamental relationship between the Franciscan humility of Archbishop of Milan Carlo Borromeo and the Roman sacred works of Caravaggio. This is the first book to consider and focus entirely upon these two seemingly anomalous personalities of the Counter-Reformation. The import of Caravaggio’s Lombard artistic heritage has long been seen as pivotal to the development of his sacred style, but it was not his only source of inspiration. This book seeks to enlarge the discourse surrounding Caravaggio’s style by placing him firmly in the environment of Borromean Milan, a city whose urban fabric was transformed into a metaphorical Via Crucis. This book departs from the prevailing preoccupation – the artist’s experience in Rome as fundamental to his formulation of sacred style – and toward his formative years in Borromeo’s Milan, where humility reigned supreme. This book is intended for a broad, yet specialized readership interested in Counter-Reformation art and devotion. It serves as a critical text for undergraduate and graduate art history courses on Baroque art, Caravaggio, and Counter-Reformation art.
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Chapter 4. Establishing His Name: Caravaggio in Rome, 1592–1599


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Caravaggio in Rome, 1592–1599

Arrival in Rome: Lombard-Inspired Genres

Despite the fact that the first document placing Caravaggio in Rome dates to 1597, it is commonly accepted that he arrived in Rome sometime in the fall of 1592, since he is last recorded in his family’s home town of Caravaggio in 1 July 1592. Reconstruction of Caravaggio’s arrival and early years in Rome can be ascertained through the artist’s biographers and through recent archival studies by Lothar Sickel.1 It is quite easy to entertain the sensational notion that the twenty-year-old Caravaggio arrived in Rome with empty pockets, and with no associations or a place to stay, save the naive ambition to succeed as a painter in the Eternal City. This, however, was not the case. Caravaggio’s paternal uncle, Ludovico Merisi, had lived in Rome from around October 1591 to May 1592. Although his uncle was no longer in the city upon Caravaggio’s arrival, it is likely that the young artist was put into contact with some of Ludovico’s associates.2 Sickel proposes, in fact, that it may have been Ludovico who helped his nephew establish lodging in the house of Monsignor Pandolfo Pucci, located in the Borgo.3

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