Caravaggio - self-portrait as a severed head

Image of David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio
Image from The complete paintings of Caravaggio London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1969
As we gradually catalogue more of the York Art Gallery Gift Collection, we’re beginning to unearth some real gems.

This image of David with the Head of Goliath appears in The Complete Paintings of Caravaggio and it’s noteworthy because the severed head - mouth agape, blank eyed, dripping blood - is actually a portrait of Caravaggio himself.

The artist was reportedly something of a firebrand: according to Michael Kitson’s introduction "[Caravaggio] is recorded as sometimes walking the streets... carrying a drawn sword in front of him, and he was often involved in fights, one of which (in 1606) ended in a murder and his subsequent flight from Rome" (p. 7).

You can find this painting hanging in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, or on page 63 of the book if you don’t have the airfare.

(Image and quoted text from The complete paintings of Caravaggio London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1969 found in the JBM Library at LJ 9.5 CAR Quarto Oversize Books)

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