The Lute Player, by Caravaggio (MET)

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 »  Articles Overview  »  Miscellaneous  »  The Lute Player, by Caravaggio (MET)

The Lute Player, by Caravaggio (MET)

By Douglas Merlini | Published  07/30/2018 | Miscellaneous | Recommendation:
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Quicklink: http://wiki.proz.com/doc/4526
Author:
Douglas Merlini
Brazil
English to Portuguese translator
Became a member: Jul 28, 2018.
 
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I. CLASSIFICATION, CHARACTEREISTICS:

The theme is the Lute Player by Caravaggio who was a painter during the Baroque period in Italy. This work was done probably in 1596. Now it can be seen in New York in the Metropolitan Museum. The work demonstrates the innovative approach to light that Caravaggio adopted at his time. Caravaggio's method was to use a strong light from above or from a single window and the walls painted black, so that having the lights bright and the shadows dark, it gives depth to the painting.

II. ANALYSIS

The Lute Player was painted in oil on canvas and the dimensions are 100 cm × 126.5 cm (39 in × 49.8 in). The proportion is linear with the play of light and shadows appearing throughout whole painting, giving life to the painting. The colors are simple but make a strong contrast between the different parts of the painting.

III. COMMENTS

The painting shows a boy with soft facial features and thick brown hair who probably could be a representation of Apollo, being really similar to other versions of Apollo painted by Caravaggio.
The boy or Apollo is playing the lute (according to the dictionary a lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck (either fretted or unfretted) and a deep round back), this one is being used to accompany a madrigal, a song about love, as we can read in the so perfect score placed in a book in front of the boy who is with an open mouth singing the words written in the book.

The madrigal of this painting is a version by Jacques Arcadelt (1515–1568), and the visible text reads in part: "Vous savez que je vous aime et vous adore...Je fus vôtre." ("You know I love you and adore you...I was yours"). 1

The artist has reproduced the initial notes of the madrigals so exactly that one can recognize the same. It is interesting to note that the song is written in French, although Caravaggio was Italian. French can be interpreted here as the language used in the courtship which can inspire love by its sweet and delicate sound.

The Lute Player is also accompanied by a violin and its bow, a recorder and a spinetta (a small keyboard instrument). It could be perfect interpreted perfectly as an allegory of music, love and beauty.

The painting demonstrates the innovative approach to light that Caravaggio adopted at this time. It consisted in the use of a strong light from above or with a single window and the walls painted black, so that having the lights bright and the shadows dark, it gives depth to the painting.

The painting is characteristic of the early phase of Caravaggio’s development when his paintings were illuminated by a soft chiaroscuro. The light comes from the left up, shining especially on the boy’s face and on the lute.

IV. BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Explanation MET


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