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Friday, June 15, 2018

Lie is more beautiful than Truth

In spite of its very trivial title, Caravaggio segreto. I misteri nascosti nei suoi capolavori [The Secret Caravaggio: The Mysteries Hidden in His Masterpieces], Costantino D'Orazio's book is a precious source because the "mysteries" revealed here concern the links of the paintings with the artist's own biography and the surrounding society. This lets us discover some interesting sides of 17th century life, from the tough universe of prostitution (that did not, as does not, only involve sexual pleasure) to the decadence of Naples, even if it was thrice as big as Rome, to the cultural ambitions of the island of Malta as a then rising 'country.' A "secret" of Caravaggio that many, this book included, don't know about is that he also portrayed Giambattista Marino. Here's the lines the latter devoted to the former in his long poem Adone, canto 6, stanza 55. The pun on "Michael + Angel" had already been used by Ariosto, but referring to Buonarroti.

And you, Michael, honor of Caravaggio,    his hometown's name
through whom Lie is more beautiful than Truth
when, proving a creator rather than painter,
you shame her by means of your hand Angelical
. . .

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