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Rome, Lazio, Italy closed Visit museumarrow_right_alt

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Michelangelo Merisi, detto Caravaggio - Judith and Holofernes
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Michelangelo Merisi, detto Caravaggio - Narciso
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Michelangelo Merisi, detto Caravaggio - Saint Francis in meditation
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Raffaello Sanzio - La Fornarina
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Hans Holbein il Giovane - Portrait of Henry VIII
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Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Portrait of Pope Urban VIII Barberini - Painting
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Agnolo di Cosimo, detto il Bronzino - Portrait of Stefano IV Colonna
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Pietro da Cortona - The Triumph of Divine Providence and the fulfillment of its ends under the pontificate of Urban VIII
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Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Square staircase
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Francesco Borromini - Helical staircase
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Andrea Sacchi - Allegory of Divine Wisdom
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Annibale Carracci - Portable tabernacle with the Pietà, scenes of saints and martyrs
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Domínikos Theotokópoulos, detto El Greco - Baptism of Christ
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Piero di Cosimo - St. Mary Magdalene
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Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Portrait of Urban VIII
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Ginevra Cantofoli - Portrait of Beatrice Cenci
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Lorenzo Lotto - Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine and saints
fullscreen
Giovanni Baronzio - Stories of the Passion of Christ
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Pompeo Batoni - Portrait of Abbondio Rezzonico
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Filippo Lippi - Annunciation
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Portrait of Urban VIII - Sculpture
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Giulio Romano - Madonna with Child (Madonna Hertz)
fullscreen
Jacopino del Conte - Deposition of Christ in the tomb
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Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, detto Sodoma - Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria
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Giovanni Lanfranco - The suicide of Cleopatra
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Simone Cantarini - Portrait of Cardinal Antonio Barberini
Michelangelo Merisi, detto Caravaggio - Judith and Holofernes
Michelangelo Merisi, detto Caravaggio - Narciso
Michelangelo Merisi, detto Caravaggio - Saint Francis in meditation
Raffaello Sanzio - La Fornarina
Hans Holbein il Giovane - Portrait of Henry VIII
Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Portrait of Pope Urban VIII Barberini - Painting
Agnolo di Cosimo, detto il Bronzino - Portrait of Stefano IV Colonna
Pietro da Cortona - The Triumph of Divine Providence and the fulfillment of its ends under the pontificate of Urban VIII
Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Square staircase
Francesco Borromini - Helical staircase
Andrea Sacchi - Allegory of Divine Wisdom
Annibale Carracci - Portable tabernacle with the Pietà, scenes of saints and martyrs
Domínikos Theotokópoulos, detto El Greco - Baptism of Christ
Piero di Cosimo - St. Mary Magdalene
Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Portrait of Urban VIII
Ginevra Cantofoli - Portrait of Beatrice Cenci
Lorenzo Lotto - Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine and saints
Giovanni Baronzio - Stories of the Passion of Christ
Pompeo Batoni - Portrait of Abbondio Rezzonico
Filippo Lippi - Annunciation
Portrait of Urban VIII - Sculpture
Giulio Romano - Madonna with Child (Madonna Hertz)
Jacopino del Conte - Deposition of Christ in the tomb
Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, detto Sodoma - Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Giovanni Lanfranco - The suicide of Cleopatra
Simone Cantarini - Portrait of Cardinal Antonio Barberini

Other works on display

Description

Three characters and a red cloth in the background: few elements, capable of orchestrating a real theater of opposites. Dark and light, old age and youth, life and death, strength and fragility. Judith is an Old Testament heroine, a young Jewish widow who saves her people from the siege of the Assyrian army. She pretends to want to ally herself with the enemy and kills General Holofernes with her own hands, after being welcomed into the camp with a sumptuous banquet. Since the 1400s it has been a frequent iconography, but it had never been represented with such bloody spectacularity. Here the scimitar is in full thrust, there is energy in the hands and contracted limbs of Holofernes, but still for a little while. The general's mouth is wide open in a cry that is about to go out, the gush of blood has not yet exhausted its jet, as if Caravaggio had wanted to block the lightning-fast moments of an action, difficult to stop with a glance. The source of light is located at the top left and entirely engulfs the slender figure of Judith, with a frown, in an effort to draw back all her strength, physical and spiritual, for a gesture that she performs in spite of herself. The handmaid Abra, who in the original story is a young woman, becomes an old woman with a wrinkled face and hallucinated eyes, a spy for the horror that the observer feels in the face of such violence. The canvas, dated around 1599, is important from a stylistic and thematic point of view: it is the first true picture of Caravaggio's history and inaugurates the phase of strong contrasts between light and shadow. It was commissioned by the banker Ottavio Costa, who was so fond of it that he claimed in his will its inalienability. However, traces of the painting were lost for centuries, and it was found only in 1951 by the restorer Pico Cellini, almost by chance, in the family that owned it, and reported to the critic Roberto Longhi. A full blown coup de théâtre, in keeping with the theatricality of the picture. Twenty years later it was purchased by the state and exhibited at Palazzo Barberini.

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