Week 7: Caravaggism; Bartolomeo Manfredi
Bacchus and the Drinker
Bartolomeo Manfredi c. 1610.
Oil on canvas.
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome.
Because Caravaggio had fled Rome in 1606, his style in Rome had been stunted. Roman patrons had developed an interest in Caravaggesque paintings, and demand for them soared. Caravaggio left no school behind in Rome. His unconventional painting methods also made him pupil-less, thus artists had to take up his style on their own (Strinati 24).
The subject of Bacchus was one of Caravaggio’s earliest motifs. Lombard artist Bartolomeo Manfredi painted the subject early after Carvaggio’s departure from Rome, probably before 1610. In Bacchus and the Drinker, Manfredi put a spin on Caravaggio’s character. In fact, Manfredi included another figure in the scene, common of Northern Italian paintings, the Drinker.
Bacchus and the Drinker is a transformation of Caravaggio’s early ideas into a painterly, tenebristic style he used later on. The idea of combining a mythological or historical character with a contemporary character was also a motif of Caravaggio’s. Out of the several Caravaggist artists, Manfredi appears to come closest to imitating the master’s style. This painting was believed to be by the hand of Caravaggio for many years.
Strinati, Claudio, Rossella Vodret. “Spada, Novelli, van Campen … new theroies and old issues concerning other Caravaggesque paintings in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica.” Caravaggio and His Italian Followers. Venice: Marsillo, 1998.
Bartolomeo Manfredi c. 1607.
Oil on canvas.
Art Institute, Chicago.
An earlier painting than Bacchus, Manfredi’s Cupid Chastened reflects both late Mannerist concepts and the beginning of Caravaggism. The subject matter and composition appear to blend Caravaggio’s two Roman period together, combining genre and mythological subject matter with monumental figures and slight tenebrism.
The dynamic, swirling composition seems to revolve on an axis. The juxtaposition and interaction of the figures have a contrapposto about them.
The color palette of this piece is reminiscent of Mannerisim. The refinement of Manfredi’s brush stroke is like Caravaggio’s earlier work. Manfredi also appears to have been studying the figures and faces of Caravaggio’s earlier genre scenes. Manfredi also adopted Caravaggio’s shallow, almost non-existent setting (Chvostal).
John J. Chvostal. “Manfredi, Bartolomeo.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 2 Mar. 2011 <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T053775>.