'Drama and Devotion in Baroque Rome' celebrates Caravaggio's influence

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'Drama and Devotion in Baroque Rome' celebrates Caravaggio's influence
Trophime Bigot, b. Arles, 1579; d. Avignon, 1650. “St. Sebastian Tended to by St. Irene,” n.d. Oil on canvas, 50 1/8 x 64 inches. Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University Greenville, SC.

ATHENS, GA.- In early-17th-century Rome, painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571 – 1610) sparked an artistic revolution in the Eternal City. Painters from all corners of Europe traveled to Rome to see his work and emulate his handling of light and dark, use of live models, dramatic staging and striking realism. Caravaggio’s shocking style drew a huge following and completely altered the Italian baroque period.

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia is currently showcasing a collection of six paintings that celebrate Caravaggio’s influence, all on loan from Bob Jones University Museum and Gallery in Greenville, South Carolina. The exhibition “Drama and Devotion in Baroque Rome” offers a unique opportunity for the public to better understand a pivotal moment in the history of art. The highlight of the exhibition is “Christ on the Cross” by Peter Paul Rubens, a Flemish artist who spent eight years in Italy. These works will be on view in the Samuel H. Kress Gallery from July 27, 2019, to May 31, 2020.

Nelda Damiano, Pierre Daura Curator of European Art at the Georgia Museum of Art, hopes that visitors will “grasp the tremendous impact Caravaggio had on the many artists who were able to freely study his works in several Roman churches. In their own way, each artist tried to measure himself up to Caravaggio. Although no painting by Caravaggio is included in this exhibition — very few are in North American collections — his trademark style comes through in all of the examples on display.”

In addition to Rubens, the exhibition includes paintings by French artists Simon Vouet and Trophime Bigot, Italian artists Orazio Gentileschi and Giovanni Lanfranco and Flemish painter Abraham Janssens.

Future collaborations are planned between the Museum and Gallery at Bob Jones University and the Georgia Museum of Art, including a celebration of Venetian art. Selected paintings from the Georgia Museum of Art’s Samuel H. Kress Study Collection remain on view.

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