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13 May 2019CARAVAGGIO AND HIS MODELS
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CARAVAGGIO AND HIS MODELS Marie-Anne Manico Monday 13 May 2019

The Death of the Virgin 1604-1606 Caravaggio

Father to the Baroque movement, indispensable to the Renaissance, and best painter in Rome, are but a few descriptions linked to Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. One of the essential traits that Caravaggio was known for, during his own time and in recent years, was his models: his realistic captures within his paintings, his relationship with them and the controversial reference between model and the painted person. Controversy or not, Caravaggio was and will remain a significant role in the field of painting.

Caravaggio was one of, if not the first, to begin working with models. This was easily seen in his paintings as his life-like representations set him apart from all his predecessor masters. His most well-known model, was claimed to be Fillide (Greek for Phyllis) Melandroni. Melandroni she was an upper class courtesan of Rome and one of the most successful, which explains why there is more information regarding her own life, compared to that of Caravaggio’s other models . Melandroni was the most consistent of his models, ranging over almost a decade of paintings.

The most contentious of all Caravaggio paintings was Death of the Virgin, modeled by Fillide Melandroni as the Virgin Mary. As she was a very famous courtesan, it was deemed unacceptable to use her as a model for the blessed Virgin.

Controversies forever surround Caravaggio, in his art, personal life and every detail in between. The models used in his works tend to appear vulgar in nature and many of his works were rejected, not only by the general populace, but also by the patrons of their intended locations. It is known that the vulgarity of the models was not the only issue, but with his works and biography rising in popularity.