Day 7 in Naples and Sicily: another closed museum with 2 Caravaggios

We left Naples early to fly to Sicily. After landing in Catania, where cacti grow profusely around the terminal, we boarded a coach (as the British say) to drive to Messina on the northeast corner of the island.

An earthquake destroyed almost 90% of the town in 1908. The quake measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, largest ever in Europe, and caused 2 tsunamis when the first wave rebounded from the mainland to hit the island of Sicily a second time. After 1908, a museum was built to house art treasures rescued from damaged buildings.

When we arrived at the museum (after a 1.5 hour drive and some lunch), the museum was closed. Some telephone calls and we were allowed inside but only to see the Caravaggios, not the rest of the museum.

Signs the museum is in the south.

Caravaggio arrived in Sicily in December 1608 after fleeing Malta. The museum has a map of Caravaggio’s travels.

Caravaggio escaped a Knights of Malta dungeon, where he had been imprisoned, possibly, for getting into a fight with another Knight. His Sicilian biographer, writing many years after Caravaggio’s death, (so question its accuracy) claimed Caravaggio became increasingly paranoid as he was now hunted by the Knights in addition to those seeking the ransom for murder.

The Raising of Lazarus, commissioned for a man named Lazzeri, shows an increased use of blank space and light that could be described as staccato, bright strips of illumination, rather than more broadly lighted. The sombre colour palette also reflects this period of his work.

His Adoration of the Shepherds for a Capuchin church shows a humble Mary and poor shepherds in keeping with the Capuchin ideals for their order, a vow of poverty and helping the poor.

Both works can be described as “painterly” showing economical use of brush strokes. Whether this was due to Caravaggio being in a hurry or more confident in his handling of paint–who knows?

The straw in the manger

A 2 hour ride got us to Siracusa where we are staying on the island of Ortigia.

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