Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Andrew Graham-Dixon

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 544 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 196mm x 30mm | 420g
  • Publication date: 1 July 2011
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0241954649
  • ISBN 13: 9780241954645
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations (chiefly col.), maps
  • Sales rank: 32,401

Product description

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio lived the darkest and most dangerous life of any of the great painters. The worlds of Milan, Rome and Naples through which Caravaggio moved and which Andrew Graham-Dixon describes brilliantly in this book, are those of cardinals and whores, prayer and violence. On the streets surrounding the churches and palaces, brawls and sword fights were regular occurrences. In the course of this desperate life Caravaggio created the most dramatic paintings of his age, using ordinary men and women - often prostitutes and the very poor - to model for his depictions of classic religious scenes. Andrew Graham-Dixon's exceptionally illuminating readings of Caravaggio's pictures, which are the heart of the book, show very clearly how he created their drama, immediacy and humanity, and how completely he departed from the conventions of his time.

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Author information

For more than twenty-five years, Andrew Graham Dixon has published a weekly column on art, first in the Independent and more recently, the Sunday Telegraph. He has written a number of acclaimed books, including A History of British Art and Renaissance, and is twice winner of the Hawthornden Prize, Britain's top prize for writing about art. He is one of the leading figures in broadcasting in the UK, having presented seven major television series on art for the BBC.

Customer reviews

By Karl Collicott 10 Mar 2012 5

This is a fantastic book in which Graham-Dixon really does succeed in bringing the life and troubled times of Caravaggio to life. It is extremely well researched, not only in terms of his paintings, allowing you to fully understand the true beauty and majesty of them but it also paints (pun intended) the world around Caravaggio. Milan, city of his birth, Caravaggio itself, Rome, Naples and Malta, the politics of the times, his patrons, his many run ins with the law, friends and enemies, its all here until his untimely death. This one of those books that leaves you not wanting to put it down but to keep going on. A masterpiece in itself.

Review quote

Caravaggio has rarely been seen in such depth and such relief as in this marvellous biography. Andrew Graham-Dixon reads Caravaggio's paintings with the habits and assumptions, thoughts and fears of his contemporaries so that we see and feel the paintings more acutely and intensely than before. The man and his work emerge enriched and enlivened -- Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane gave me immense pleasure and provided constant delight. It is a thrilling lesson in the art of seeing, a sensual exploration of the shadows of Caravaggio's sometimes violent but always Christian world, a detective story with a highly satisfying ending. Andrew Graham-Dixon's ability to have a reader see a painting through written language is a rare and precious gift. The book's rigour and integrity are obvious. I trusted every word and was sorry to turn the final page -- Peter Carey