Concert of youths

(1595, New York, Metropolitan Museum).
   This is the first commission Caravaggio received from Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, one of his early patrons. It depicts three young men dressed all' antica engaging in music making. Caravaggio's inspiration for this theme came from the works of artists active in Venice, such as Lorenzo Lotto and Palma Vecchio, who depicted women in contemporary garb engaged in similar activities. Caravaggio transformed these scenes of aristocratic leisure into a mythological rendering, as noted by the presence of the winged Eros (Cupid), god of love. The music sheet in the foreground is there to invite the viewer to join the young men in their activity. Musical instruments are a symbol of love and also of harmony. This, coupled with the erotic appearance of the figures, enhances the theme of amorous enticement that permeates the painting.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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