• Martyrdom of St Peter

    Artist:
    Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio), circle of. 1571-1610
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    232x201 cm

Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio), circle of. 1571-1610

Martyrdom of St Peter

Italy,

We can get an idea of the influence Caravaggio had on his contemporaries by looking at The Martyrdom of St Peter by the Bolognese artist Lionello Spada. This work was evidently based on a lost painting by Caravaggio himself that was created for the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. Subjects from the life of the Apostle Peter, who is considered the original predecessor of the pope, were very popular in Roman art. According to tradition, the first Bishop of Rome suffered a martyr’s death on the Vatican Hill. Emperor Nero ordered that he be crucified. Ardently willing to suffer for Christ, but not daring to follow the Saviour in the manner of His death, Peter begged his executioners to crucify him upside down. The artist presents the moment when the cross is being raised: the unstable equilibrium of the composition is underlined by sharp contrasts of light and shade. The use of light looks innovative, with figures being snatched out of the dark space and presented to the viewer. With cold unvarnished objectivity and without idealization the artist shows us the apostle’s tormented body and the business-like energy of the executioners. The artist superbly conveyed Peter’s old man’s skin and the tense left leg that is supporting the full weight of his body as well as the martyr’s blood-flushed face with its open mouth, dishevelled beard and deeply furrowed forehead.

School:

Title:

Martyrdom of St Peter

Place:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

232x201 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1808; acquired by the French intermediary D. Vivant Denon

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-28

Category:

Collection:

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