Nerdy post to follow.
What a memorable trip! How fortunate was I that Travel caught COVID and gave me his tickets to both Malta and Greece. I had never been to either and was excited to go a ramblin’. In fact, I’m just finishing up my trip as I write. My plane should be taking off shortly to return me to the friendly confines of the compound.
But, please, gentle reader, don’t tell Mr. McTravelFace I didn’t take in any soccer. I went full on tourist mode. First, and only, stop: Malta and its capital, Valetta.
I could hardly contain myself. You see, I’m a bit Caravaggio obsessed.
His paintings and life (1571-1610) are legendary. Born in Milan, Caravaggio hastened to Rome and quickly became notorious for both his talent and his temper. His use of light and movement in painting were something the world hadn’t experienced before. Additionally, his use of models was scandalous.
Here we have the most popular prostitute in Rome, Fillide Melandroni, serving as a model for the soon-to-be-converted Magdalene. The church hierarchy was none too pleased that Caravaggio used Fillide for many of his paintings of female saints. How could he dare pollute the immaculate reputation of the heavenly saints with a lowly courtesan (whom many of the princes of the Church, ahem, “knew” well)?
Interestingly, Caravaggio painted only one ceiling that we know of.
This fresco was painted for his patron, Cardinal del Monte. The palace is for sale and, for only $300 million, it can be yours. Most of the value of the palace is tied to this 6 foot long work of art. It can be a shocking sight, to be sure. I don’t know which is more troubling and graphic: this mural or the result from googling “Willem Dafoe Vimeo.” (Please don’t do that search on a work computer.)
Some art critics make a claim of homoeroticism in his paintings and I’m not one to argue.
Caravaggio’s temper got the better of him and he ended up both attacking people and committing murder in Rome in front of witnesses. He fled the law, knocking around various towns, painting religious pictures to sustain himself. Finally, he had a brilliant idea. If he could get to Malta and convince those in charge to make him a Knight of Malta, he couldn’t be in legal jeopardy anymore. For the Knights of Malta were a sovereign order that only answered to the Pope himself. No other law applied to them. This was where I was heading! I was about to walk in the steps of the master himself!
He made it to the island and oleaginously kissed the proverbial of the Grand Knight, Alof de Wignacourt. While in Malta, Caravaggio produced this work that many have thought to be Alof, but perhaps might be another Knight.
All his efforts paid off. Caravaggio was made a Knight. Secure in his immunity, he reverted to his life of dissipation, drunkenness, and violent depravity which resulted in Caravaggio seriously wounding an important fellow Knight. Forthwith kicked out of the order, he fled this amazing isle and wound up in Southern Italy where he died of unknown causes (murdered? syphilis? sepsis?).
So much more to tell but my phone has been blowing up for the last hour. It’s affecting my concentration. Let me check and see what’s more important than Caravaggio.
Well. There you go.