Seven acts of mercy, Church of the Madonna della Misericordia, Naples

   Painted by Caravaggio who used as his source a passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew where the seven acts of mercy (in Italian, misericordia) are listed. These are the feeding of the hungry, providing drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, tending to the sick, burying the dead, and visiting those in prison. In the painting these acts are depicted as Samson drinking from the jawbone of an ass, a man welcoming a pilgrim in need of shelter, St. Martin giving half his cloak to a naked ill man, a corpse being carried away for burial, and Pero visiting her father Cimon in prison and sustaining him with her breastmilk. The Virgin and Child and two adolescent angels hover above in a complex intertwined arrangement and convey their approval of the scene below. The painting's intended message is that salvation is attainable through good deeds, as advocated by the Church of the Counter-Reformation. An oppressive atmosphere permeates the work, mainly due to the fact that the space above the figures is dark and takes up more than half of the pictorial surface. This is characteristic of Caravaggio's post-Roman phase and reflective of the turbulence in his life from constantly running from the law.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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  • The Seven Works of Mercy (Caravaggio) — Infobox Painting| title=The Seven Works of Mercy artist=Caravaggio year=1607 type=Oil on canvas height=390 width=260 city=Naples museum=Pio Monte della Misericordia The Seven Works of Mercy is an oil painting by Italian painter Caravaggio, circa… …   Wikipedia

  • Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da — (1571 1610).    Caravaggio was probably born in Milan. In 1572, he is documented in the town of Caravaggio where his family owned property, hence his name. In 1588 1592, he apprenticed with Simone Peterzano, a Milanese painter thought to have… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

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