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We seem to have crept to within touching distance of this small group of musicians who turn towards us with surprise. The highly focused light source creates sharp highlights, intense shadows and a sense both of drama and intimacy. Dramatic lighting effects like this are now common, but in the 1620s it was a revolutionary way to paint. The man responsible for this revolution was Michelangelo Caravaggio, who was working in Rome between about 1597 and 1607.
Oil on canvas
H 99.1 x W 116.8 cm
Bought with contributions from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Art Fund and The Pilgrim Trust, 1983