The First Modern Artist: Caravaggio in Rome and Malta

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Two Caravaggio paintings in San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome
Two Caravaggio paintings
in San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio flashed through the studios and patronage circles of 16th-century Rome like a lightning bolt, and the impact of his work on Baroque painting was just as powerful. Yet after his death in 1610, his paintings fell out of the scholarly and public eye. He was not truly in the spotlight again until the 20th century, when his works and his importance to western art were given a major reappraisal. According to renowned art historian Bernard Berenson, “With the exception of Michelangelo, no other Italian painter exercised so great an influence.”

What are the reasons behind this enthusiastic re-assessment, and what are the implications for our understanding of both Caravaggio’s works and our own contemporary culture? In particular, art historians point to Caravaggio’s influence on modern painting. What’s at the bottom of their claims?

We’ll find out together in the Roman churches, museums and galleries where Caravaggio’s works are displayed, and in the narrow streets and grand palaces and piazzas where he lived, worked and socialized. We then leave the bustle of Rome for the intriguing island of Malta. Caravaggio fled there in 1606 to join the Knights of the Order of St. John, and thus receive pardon for a grave sin—the killing of Ranuccio Tomassoni. We’ll see some of the works he painted there during a period of violence and desperation that marked the last few years of his life. We’ll also take in the many-layered history and landscape of Malta, for centuries a crossroads of culture and political power struggles.

Join Classical Pursuits on a quest to understand the unmatched drama and intensity of one of Italy’s most important painters.

To learn more and get a detailed itinerary, please contact us.

Panorama of Valletta
Panorama of Valletta

Image credits: Panorama of Malta, Olga Prystai on Wikipedia
Creative Commons License 4.0


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Rome, Italy and Valletta, Malta

May 15–25, 2022

M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio by Peter Robb

Nella Cotrupi is a literary critic, scholar, educator and lawyer with a lifelong passion for the literary and visual arts. She takes an interdisciplinary approach to her subjects and focuses on the intersections between art, biography, society and the evolution of ideas.

Hotel Stendhal, Rome; Embassy Hotel, Valletta

12 to 16 participants

Approx. US$4995
Single supplement: TBA

Cost includes guides, readings, accommodation in double occupancy, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, admissions, and taxes and gratuities.

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Travel Pursuits 2022