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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Portrait of Caravaggio

Ottavio Leoni (Rome 1578-1630)
Portrait of Michelangelo Merisi known as Caravaggio c. 1621
Colored chalk on paper
Biblioteca Marucelliana, Florence


Leoni was part of Caravaggio`s circle and thus a friend of Caravaggio. The portrait was executed sometime after Caravaggio`s death in 1610

However in a libel action brought by Baglione against Caravaggio, Caravaggio admitted knowing Leoni, but denied having ever spoken to him.Caravaggio was perhaps a stranger to the truth in some of his statements even those sworn under oath.

The portrait by Leoni of Caravaggio (above) defines Caravaggio primarily through his dark curly hair, beard, and eyebrows.

Caravaggio did paint himself in some of his paintings most notably in The Martyrdom of St Matthew (1599-1600) in the Contarelli Chapel in The Church of St Louis of the French in Rome.