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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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1.Anne H. Muraoka, “Il fine della pittura: Canon Reformulation in the Age of Counter-Reformation—The Lombard–Roman Confluence,” PhD diss., Temple University, 2009.

2.Note regarding titles of artworks: An attempt has been made to balance translations of titles from the Italian—many of which, of course, were not contemporary—with extant English titles. Sometimes a more widely known English title has been used; other times, a closer translation. Throughout, however, I have written San Carlo Borromeo where an English translation title might usually say St. Charles Borromeo. The Italian titles referenced were those in Paolo Biscottini, ed., Carlo e Federico: La luce dei Borromeo nella Milano spagnola, exh. cat., Museo Diocesano, Milan, 5 November 2005–7 May 2006 (Gessate [Milan]: Arti Grafiche Colombo, 2005).

3.Beginning in the early twentieth century with Roberto Longhi’s seminal essays on Lombard precursors to Caravaggio to the important 2004 exhibition, Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy, the importance of Caravaggio’s Lombard predecessors on the artist’s own style have seen significant consideration. See Roberto Longhi, “Quesiti Caravaggeschi, I: Registro dei tempi,” Pinacotheca 1, no. 6 (1928): 17–33; Longhi, “Quesiti Caravaggeschi, II: I precedenti,” Pinacotheca 1, no. 7 (1929): 258–320; Flavio Caroli, ed., Il Cinquecento lombardo: Da Leonardo a Caravaggio, exh. cat., Palazzo Reale, Milan, 4 October 2000–25 February 2001 (Milan: Skira, 2000); and Andrea Bayer, ed., Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy, exh. cat...

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