Caravaggio’s ‘The Decapitation of Saint John the Baptist’ is a masterpiece commissioned by the Knights of Malta as an altar piece, and it remains in St. John’s Co-Cathedral to this day. At 3.7 m by 5.2 m, it depicts the execution of John the Baptist with Caravaggio’s characteristic use of dramatic lighting and realism.
Caravaggio was a controversial figure during his lifetime, known for his violent nature and frequent arrests. He brought that same intensity to his artwork, depicting gruesome scenes like ‘The Decapitation of Saint John the Baptist’ with such realism that they were shocking to viewers at the time.
Today, painting experts consider this piece one of the most important works in Western painting and one of Caravaggio’s masterpieces. Its legacy lies not only in its artistic significance but also in its historical relevance as an altar piece for a religious order. Its combination of religious subject matter with intense drama makes it a testament not only to Caravaggio’s impressive technical skill but also his unique view on religious iconography.
Additional Fact: The assassination of Caravaggio is another controversy surrounding him as no one knows who killed him found dead after leaving Naples around 400 years ago.