The basket of fruit, Caravaggio, 1597-1600. Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan.
Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome
Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio, 1606. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.
The Vatican, Rome
Photo by Christopher Czermak via Unsplash
Detail of The Inspiration of St Matthew by Caravaggio in the Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome
Journey through Milan, Rome, Naples, Sicily and Malta, tracing the life and career of one of history’s finest painters: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
View a range of the artist’s masterpieces from different parts of his career, during visits to churches and galleries
Enjoy lectures on Caravaggio’s life, and explore his legacy and technique, including his signature use of chiaroscuro
"An intensive, highly instructive course"
- ACE customer on a previous Caravaggio tour
One of the most compelling characters in Baroque art, Caravaggio revolutionised painting with his adherence to naturalism and controversial use of models from everyday life. From his meteoric rise to fame, through heated controversy and to his untimely death on the malarial Italian beaches in 1610, Caravaggio’s supporters and critics alike realised that here was an astounding and unprecedented artistic force to be reckoned with.
This tour will explore his trajectory, from his origins in Lombard naturalism through to the mature style of his Neapolitan works. On a journey in the artist’s footsteps, from Milan to Malta via Rome, Naples and Sicily, we will see some of Caravaggio’s greatest works – many of which are still in situ in the locations for which they were originally painted.
We begin our tour in Milan, where Caravaggio was born, and where some of his works – including The Supper at Emmaus – are held today. In Rome, the young Michelangelo Merisi’s career flowered amid the Counter-Reformation search for new artistic styles worthy of representing the Church. Here, Caravaggio became embroiled in a new art scene, with all its experimentation and often violent rivalry, as artists struggled and competed to fashion a relevant contemporary art.
We will explore paintings hanging in several of the city’s churches, such as The Calling of St Matthew at San Luigi dei Francesi. Meanwhile, the Palazzo Barberini is home to several works by Caravaggio, including his depictions of St John the Baptist and Judith Beheading Holofernes, as well as a self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the most successful female artists of the Baroque age and the subject of a recent exhibition at the National Gallery in London.
We will view further paintings by Caravaggio, as well as by other artists including Carracci and Artemesia’s father, Orazio Gentileschi, across Rome, with visits to sites including the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Galleria Corsini and Galleria Borghese. Highlights at the latter include Caravaggio’s Boy with the Basket of Fruit, David and Goliath and Sick Bacchus.
Following in the footsteps of Caravaggio’s 1606 flight from Rome, we will head to Naples, in the artist’s day a major centre of Spanish power. A wealthy, culturally sophisticated society existed, notoriously, side by side with the harsh realities of desperate poverty and a shifting underclass, and Caravaggio’s powerful naturalism took the city’s public by storm. Artists clamoured to adopt his new and relevant approach, and our tour will also consider works by Caravaggio’s contemporaries.
Whilst in Naples we will also consider the final years of Caravaggio’s life when he began his return to Rome in anticipation of a papal pardon. During this time he carried out a number of mature works epitomising his signature use of chiaroscuro, including the haunting Martyrdom of St Ursula, today housed in the Galleria di Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano.
Our journey continues in Sicily, where the Museo Regionale di Messina is home to two important works – The Raising of Lazarus and The Adoration of the Shepherds – before we make our final stop in Malta, where Caravaggio was invited to work for the Knights of St John. These years led to him becoming a member of the Order and resulted in a series of important paintings, including the disturbing Beheading of St John the Baptist, his largest altarpiece, commissioned for St John’s Co-Cathedral.
Throughout our journey we will stay in comfortable city centre hotels located in Milan, Rome, Naples, Siracusa and Valletta.
This tour will be led by Marie-Anne Mancio, MPhil, DPhil, an art historian, writer, experienced tour leader and Arts Society accredited lecturer. Marie-Anne originally trained as an artist before gaining a DPhil at the University of Sussex in art and critical theory. She has written and presented courses for Tate and Dulwich Picture Gallery; writes reviews, catalogue essays and historical fiction; and is a frequent visitor to Italy. She is currently writing a book about Caravaggio, and looks forward to introducing an ACE group to his fascinating life and oeuvre in 2023.