Caravaggio e caravaggeschi a Firenze, the Galleria Palatina at the Palazzo Pitti and the Uffizi (Florence). Closing January 9th
Caravaggio’s power to captivate us today makes us wonder whether he was not four hundred years ahead of his time. This anniversary exhibition, perhaps more than others across Italy, shows that he was not. His genius was readily recognized and tirelessly sought even during his own day, and even by the Grand Dukes of Florence who had every reason to restrict their patronage to the their own well-established Tuscan tradition. So while artists in Florence remained aloof to the emerging naturalism and quotidian predilections of Caravaggio and the Caravaggeschi, their rulers worked assiduously to acquire the master’s Bacchus, Medusa, and Cavadenti within the first two decades of the seventeenth century. Evidently, the Medici even had it in mind to lure Caravaggio to Florence; something they might well have accomplished had not the painter been forced to flee Rome as a wanted murderer. In his stead, the Grand Dukes enjoyed the presence of protégés such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Battistello Caracciolo, and Theodor Rombouts.