|Cerasi Chapel, S. Maria del Popolo, Rome|
(In reality, never as brightly lit as this photo)
Today is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. The two are generally seen as the pillars of the early Church. Peter the Apostle chosen by Jesus to lead the Church into the future and Paul the convert and Apostle to the Gentiles. Between them they established the fledgling Church, carrying the Word far beyond the confines of Palestine and into the Greco-Roman world. And they both suffered martyrdom under the Emperor Nero.
They are also frequently seen together in artistic creations. In 2008 I wrote about Raphael’s inclusion of the two saints in his tapestries for the Sistine Chapel. Today I would like to look at the two paintings by Caravaggio in the Cerasi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome.
Completed around 1600 they have long been recognized as being among the finest works of Caravaggio’s early maturity. Typical of his work they feature startlingly realistic figures seen in strong chiaroscuro (dark/light). In the space of the tiny Cerasi chapel, they are overwhelming in their impact on the viewer.
|Caravaggio, Conversion of St. Paul|
Rome, S. Maria del Popolo, Cerasi Chapel