David with the Head of Goliath (1601)
Rome 1603. Images of the Saviour, the virgin and the saints are beautiful and pure, created to win the hearts of the faithful. But then Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio starts to paint. He says the glory of the gospel is that the saviour was made of flesh and blood. And he paints him, and those who were with him, earthier and more physical than anything that has been seen before. His models are taken from the streets, the taverns, markets and brothels. Caravaggio changes forever the sense of what painting could do, how real it could feel. But to some, this was precisely the problem – he was the man who came to destroy painting, to rob it of its spiritual lift-off power.
Caravaggio is part of the BBC art education seriesThe Power of Art providing dramatized reconstruction of the lives of famous artists who have changed the concept of art in history.