Restoration of the "John the Baptist" by Caravaggio
Restoration of the John the Baptist by Caravaggio, one of the artist's two paintings preserved in the Capitol collections (the other is the famous Good Luck) in a special site visible to the public in the Santa Petronilla room of the Capitoline Picture Gallery, to follow "live” all phases of the intervention.
This important initiative, curated by the Superintendency for Cultural Heritage of the Municipality of Rome, was made possible thanks to the sponsorship of the company SA.PAR srl and is carried out by the restorer Nicola Salini. The intervention concerns, in particular, the removal of alterations in the protective layers, of oxidized paints and ancient localized repaintings and will be completed at the end of January 2010. The last cleaning of the painting dates back to 1980.
John the Baptist located in the Capitol since 1750 is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating works by Caravaggio. In this canvas, he expresses his reflections on pictorial naturalism and religious sentiment in a brilliant way. All the critics agree today on the attribution to the artist of this painting, thanks also to a meticulous series of technical investigations that have demonstrated the authenticity of the work.
Caravaggio painted John the Baptist in 1602 for Ciriaco Mattei, one of the most prominent figures of the Roman society of the time; the subject of the painting is a clear reference to the name of Ciriaco's son, Giovanni Battista. Therefore intended for the private rooms of the Mattei palace and not for a place of worship, John the Baptist is a profound synthesis of Caravaggio's meditations on sacred painting. For this reason, the painter uses, as a compositional model for the Baptist, one of the beautiful Nudes frescoed by Michelangelo in the vault of the Sistine Chapel. The most striking and complex work of the Italian Renaissance: the great works of art - as is also shown in this case - they do not come out of a sudden flash of genius, but are the result of talent, study and constant commitment.