The Crucifixion of Saint Peter (1600-1601) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

The Crucifixion of Saint Peter - Caravaggio - 1601

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Crucifixion of Saint Peter
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions230 x 175 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationSanta Maria del Popolo, Rome, Italy

About The Crucifixion of Saint Peter

“The Crucifixion of Saint Peter” is a distinguished artwork by Caravaggio, created in the year 1601. This oil on canvas masterpiece embodies the Baroque art movement with its dramatic intensity and use of chiaroscuro for heightened emotional effect. The work measures 230 by 175 centimeters and is a religious painting located at Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome, Italy.

The artwork captures the harrowing moment of Saint Peter’s martyrdom with intense realism and emotional depth, exemplary of Caravaggio’s approach to religious scenes. Saint Peter is depicted inverted, a preference he is said to have requested to distinguish his crucifixion from that of Jesus Christ, considering himself unworthy to die in the same manner as his savior. His body is dominated by the effects of gravity, with his muscles shown taut as he is hoisted up by his executioners. The artwork focuses on the humanity of the scene, as seen in the visceral struggle of the older, bearded Saint Peter and the physical exertion of his executioners.

Caravaggio’s use of light and shadow is particularly notable, with the stark lighting enhancing the three-dimensional quality of the figures and casting deep shadows that increase the sense of volume. The composition leads the viewer’s eyes across the painting, from the determined yet pained expression on Saint Peter’s face to the effortful strains of the figures lifting him, signifying the gravity and solemnity of the moment. The artwork stands as a significant representation of the Baroque period’s thematic and stylistic concerns, encapsulating both the spiritual fervor and the corporeal realism that marked this epoch in art history.

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