The Musicians

7:00 AM

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, The Musicians, 1595 


This masterful work, The Musicians, epitomizes the Baroque period through its composition and artistry. Caravaggio extenuates drama and tension throughout his work, characteristic of the Baroque era. The Baroque period marked change in music and arts. Music of the period featured staccato phrases and the emergence of many new stylistic forms: including the fugue, sonata, suite and concerto grosso. Caravaggio created The Musicians to illustrate his support for the arts and the convergence of music and visual art. Additionally, Caravaggio uses his life-like folds to frame the piece. The folds and varying hues give the viewer a focal point, he establishes this with the figure wrapped in the red robe.

Caravaggio created a body of works with the musical motifs intended to be displayed in rehearsal halls and performance places. Cardinal Francesco del Monte held The Musicians in his home, where he invited musicians to perform. The painting features instruments specific and popular to the time. He illustrates four aspects of performance and composition: practice, analysis of the piece, nervousness ( as portrayed by the boy facing the audience) and luck/faith in the piece ( as depicted by cupid's presence). In addition, Caravaggio uses shadow to portray another aspect of performance in the Baroque period, opulence or special treatment for the talented. The artist shows this through the use of shadow hiding the grapes toward the side of the painting. In conclusion, Caravaggio depicts the complicated life of the performer. 

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