Storia dell’arte 3, Luglio – Settembre 1969
Un probabile dipinto murale del Caravaggio per il Cardinale Del Monte
Here for the first time is published a mural painted in oils that is to be found in the Casino Ludovisi in Rome and which has been cited only by G. P. Bellori in the « Life » of Michelangelo by Caravaggio. The theme of such work consists in the representation of the Universe with the Elements, through the symbolic image of the corresponding divinities. In favour of the attribution of the painting to Caravaggio the Author gives as evidence the following circumstances: a) the work was executed for Cardinal Del Monte (who became proprietor of the Vigna and of the Casino after 1596), b) the technique of the oil, very little used in mural decoration and preferred, anyhow, by the « Lombardi » painters, c) the stylistic inspection, specially for some characteristics of the drapery and of the faces, that recall clearly such works as the Martyrdom of St. Matthew in S. Luigi dei Francesi and the Flight into Egypt in the Doria Gallery. The painting has another interesting aspect from the iconological point of view: the image of the Universe of which the interpretation is tied to a modem astronomical vision known to the esoteric tradition was therefore of particular interest to the Cardinal Del Monte who, as has been said, was dedicated to the study of alchemy. The theme probably suggested by the Cardinal is interpreted in an intense and realistic manner, but reveals a new aspect of a Caravaggio cultivated and intellectual that adheres to the spiritual movement of the new science.