Listening to Art

03.09: Caravaggio, Saint Jerome

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Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume three, number nine: Saint Jerome by Caravaggio.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

After fleeing Rome in 1606 Caravaggio went to Naples, which was was then under Spanish rule. From there he went to Malta, then Sicily, always waiting for a papal pardon, then back to Naples, where he was attacked and his face slashed. In June 1610 he sailed north. Walter Friedlaender’s Caravaggio Studies (pp. 134–135) describes his last days:

An avviso of July 31, 1610 announced that he had already been granted his pardon by His Holiness, but it is not certain whether he had received the news during his voyage. Caravaggio went ashore somewhere near the small town of Port’Ercole, on the promontory of Monte Argentario in southern Tuscany, a part of the coast which was at this time under the jurisdiction of the Spanish Viceroy of Naples. Bellori relates that the Spanish Guards, mistaking Caravaggio for another Cavaliere for whom they were lying in wait, arrested him and threw him into prison. He was released after a few days only to find that the felucca had sailed without him, carrying off all his belongings….

Caravaggio was … in a state of utmost desperation and fury. He started out on foot along the beach in the terrible heat of July—beneath the “sforza del sol Lione,” as Baglione calls it. When he came to Port’Ercole he was ill and exhausted, and within a few days he died of a malignant fever, in all probability the malaria perniciosa that pervades this region. A few days later two avvisi dated July 28 and 31, 1610, announced to Rome the death of one of its most celebrated painters:

1610, July 28

Word has been received of the death of Michelangelo da Caravaggio, a famous painter, eminent in the handling of color and painting from life, following an illness in Port’Ercole.

This is a painting, oil on canvas, 153 cm wide by 116 cm high.

Now let’s listen to Saint Jerome by Caravaggio, recorded at the Galleria Borghese, in Rome, on 30 May 2018.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Saint Jerome by Caravaggio. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

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All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Friedlaender, Walter. Caravaggio Studies. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974.

Galleria Borghese. “Galleria Borghese.” Galleria Borghese.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Caravaggio,”

⸻, s.v. “Saint Jerome Writing,”