The Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan proudly presented the exhibition “Caravaggio, nono dialogo”, scheduled from 21 June to 25 September, which puts two masterpieces by the extraordinary Lombard artist side by side for the first time: La cena di Emmaus – The dinner in Emmaus – of the Pinacoteca and the David con la testa di Golia – David with the head of Goliath-, granted by the Galleria Borghese in Rome in exchange for the loan of a painting by Guido Reni for an exhibition in the capital.
A close encounter never happened before with the aim of comparing two paintings belonging to the late production of Caravaggio, studying their details – such as the blade of the sword of Goliath that David used for the beheading with the letters of the Augustinian motto H engraved -AS-OS (‘Humilitas Occidit Superbiam’) or the folds of David’s white shirt – and grasp its essence.
A dialogue that asks the public to take part in the debate on the exact date of realization of the David, mirror of the human drama of Caravaggio – he reproduced his self-portrait in the face of the severed head of Goliath – comparing it to the ‘Supper at Emmaus’ in 1606.
The director of the Bradburne Art Gallery states that
the debates on the paintings do not focus only on attribution – that is, on the artist’s identity – and even when this does not seem in question, as in the case of the Caravaggio of the Galleria Borghese, another fundamental element in the history of a painting is the moment in which it was made
This analysis is essential to understand the context and place it at the right point in an artist’s career.
The majority of critics place it towards the end of his second stay in Naples and therefore towards the end of 1609 but recent studies maintain that the canvas was executed between the end of the Roman period and the escape to Naples after the accusation of murder of Ranuccio Tomassoni and the death sentence pronounced in 1606: a thesis that would explain even better the similarity with the Brera painting.
With the “Caravaggio, Nono Dialogo, curated by Letizia Lodi, the Pinacoteca di Brera resumes the tradition of confrontation between the great works of its collection and guest paintings, initiated by director James Bradburne in 2016.