Bacchino Malato

(1594; Rome, Galleria Borghese)
   The Bacchino Malato is believed to be Caravaggio's self-portrait in the guise of Bacchus, the mythological god of wine. Caravaggio here presented himself as a crude type dressed in a toga, seated at a table, holding grapes, and crowned with a wreath. Rendered while he worked in the studio of the Cavaliere d'Arpino, the painting was one of three purchased by Cardinal Scipione Borghese for his collection. At the time of its execution, Caravaggio fell seriously ill and was forced to remain in the hospital for a long stay. The figure in the painting bears a pale, unhealthy complexion; its title translates from the Italian to Little III Bacchus. This demonstrates Caravaggio's insistence on rendering nature with all its imperfections, then a truly innovative approach to painting.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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