The Met Reunites Caravaggio’s Last Two Paintings in Exhibition Opening on April 11
April 11–July 9, 2017 The Met Fifth Avenue European Paintings, 2nd Floor, Gallery 621
The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, the last documented painting by the great Caravaggio (1571–1610), will be on exceptional loan from the Banca Intesa Sanpaolo in Naples and presented with another of the artist’s final works, The Met’s The Denial of Saint Peter, created in the last months of his life. These two extraordinary paintings have not been shown together since 2004, in an exhibition in London and Naples devoted to the artist’s late work. Caravaggio’s Last Two Paintings will offer a rare opportunity to see these pictures side by side and to examine the novelty of Caravaggio’s late style, in which the emphasis is less on the naturalistic depiction of the figures and more on their psychological presence.
The exhibition is made possible by the Banca Intesa Sanpaolo through its internal Culture Program. Additional support is provided by the Foundation for Italian Art and Culture (FIAC).
Commissioned by the Genoese patrician Marcantonio Doria two months before Caravaggio’s death in July 1610, The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula is painted in an unprecedented minimalist style. Its interpretation of the tragic event that is its subject, combined with the abbreviated manner of painting, has only one parallel: The Denial of Saint Peter in The Met collection. In these two works, Caravaggio poignantly probes a dark world burdened by guilt and doom, suggesting to some scholars a connection with his biography and sense of the tragedy of life.
The exhibition is organized by Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings at The Met.