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Title: The Symbolism of blood in two masterpieces of the early Italian Baroque art
Authors: Conte, Angelo Lo
Keywords: Symbolism in art
Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da, 1573-1610. Beheading of St. John the Baptist -- Criticism and interpretation
Gentileschi, Artemisia, 1593-1652 or 1653. Judith beheading Holofernes -- Criticism and interpretation
Blood in art
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: University of Malta. International Institute for Baroque Studies
Citation: Lo Conte, A. (2015). The Symbolism of blood in two masterpieces of the early Italian Baroque art. Journal of Baroque Studies, 1(3), 109-127.
Abstract: Throughout history, blood has been associated with countless meanings, encompassing life and death, power and pride, love and hate, fear and sacrifice. In the early Baroque, thanks to the realistic mi of Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi, blood was transformed into a new medium, whose powerful symbolism demolished the conformed traditions of Mannerism, leading art into a new expressive era. Bearer of macabre premonitions, blood is the exclamation mark in two of the most outstanding masterpieces of the early Italian Seicento: Caravaggio's Beheading a/the Baptist (1608) and Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith beheading Holofernes (1611-12), in which two emblematic events of the Christian tradition are interpreted as a representation of personal memories and fears, generating a powerful spiral of emotions which constantly swirls between fiction and reality. Through this paper I propose that both Caravaggio and Aliemisia adopted blood as a symbolic representation of their own life-stories, understanding it as a vehicle to express intense emotions of fear and revenge.
Appears in Collections:JBS, Volume 1, No. 3 (2015)

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