Intense shadows, a cherubic young boy, and striking detail. Why yes, it’s our old friend Caravaggio painting a boy playing the lute surrounded by music and flowers. Caravaggio has been known to think that this painting was the best one he ever did, and it’s clear that the technique involved could make it so.
While it was thought that a pair of versions of the painting existed (we’re looking at the Hermitage Version here), it turns out that a third version existed but wasn’t discovered until January 2001. This new version was originally covered in a thick yellow varnish, making it hard to discover the details.
Destined for Great Things
One of the most famous facts about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was his incredible skill at music, even from a young age. When he was three, he started playing on the clavier alongside his father, and by the age of seven, he was already on tour.
This painting was done by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni while Mozart was six, but it wasn’t just Wolfgang – there are also paintings of his older sister Maria Anna Mozart and their father, Leopold Mozart, a composer, violinist, and theorist, whose musical studies helped both children become prodigies. It just so happens that Wolfgang was MORE of a prodigy, which makes us feel bad for Maria.
A Deadly Orange
While it looks like “Isabella” by John Everett Millais could have been painted in the sixteen-hundreds, it was actually only painted in the middle of the nineteenth century. It shows a scene from Giovanni Boccaccio’s novel “Lisabetta e il testo di Basilico.”
The man to Isabella’s right, Lorenzo, hands her a cut blood orange, and Isabella’s brothers realize there is something going on between the two. One of the brothers, who is kicking a dog, has a gruesome snarl on his face. But what does the orange mean? Well, it kind of looks like the neck of someone who has been decapitated, and guess what happens in the book?
One of the First Landscapes
Art is always changing, and there was even a time back in the day when the term “landscape Painting” hadn’t yet become popular. Well, painter Giorgione was about to change all that with his piece of art, “The Tempest.” Few paintings have given rise to the debate that this one has.
No consensus has even been reached to explain the imagery it includes, such as the breastfeeding woman or the flash of lightning in the clouds. There are over a hundred proposed interpretations for the painting, but due to the dearth of knowledge we have about Giorgione, we will likely never know the truth.
The Second Coming
Until the time of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, most pictures of heaven were ordered, harmonious, and serene compared to the busy, noisy, and messy world below. “The Last Judgment,” seen here, changed all that. Michelangelo painted it with agitation, excitement, and even some areas that seem to exhibit tension and disturbance.
The impression of the fresco makes it seem as if the entire collection, all the angels and Saints and everyone we can see, is circling around the figures at the center, Mary and Jesus. An additional detail is that this segment of the fresco is positioned above the altar, something that was the reverse of traditional arrangement.