Rome as the hotspot of the art world

By Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Alte Pinakothek, Bavarian State Painting Collections

Gezicht op het Piazza del Popolo te Rome (1696) by Wittel, Caspar vanRijksmuseum


In 1600, Rome was the cultural centre of the world. The growing metropolis attracted artists and architects from all over Europe, among them the Utrecht painters Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerard van Honthorst, and Dirck van Baburen. They had followed the call of Flemish artist biographer and art theoretician Karel van Mander, who reported in his 1604 schilder-boek (Book of Painters) on the ‘wonderful things’ a certain Caravaggio was doing in Rome.

Map of Rome (1676) by Giovanni Battista FaldaOriginal Source:

Caravaggio had lived with Cardinal Francesco Mario del Monte at the Palazzo Madama for some time. Many of his foreign followers settled in the area of the parishes of Santa Maria del Popolo, San Lorenzo in Lucina, and Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, and often had to share living quarters due to the high rents.

Only a few artists were fortunate enough to stay in the home of a wealthy patron. The household of Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani and his brother, Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani, was home to Caravaggio and many of his followers. Vincenzo Giustiniani was considered one of the most prominent patrons and collectors of Caravaggesque painting. Together with his brother, he established one of the most extensive art collections of his time in Rome. Upon his death, his legacy included 632 paintings.

San Luigi dei Francesi

Palazzo Giustiniani is located opposite the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, which houses two of Caravaggio’s most famous works, "The Calling of Saint Matthew" and "The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew". Both works can still be viewed in the church today.

Self-Portrait with an Easel (c. 1620-c. 1625) by Nicolas RégnierHarvard Art Museums

Artists in the Palazzo Giustiniani

Honthorst and Nicolas Régnier were among those who took up residence in the Palazzo Giustiniani. In Régnier’s double portrait, you can see the painter himself at the easel, painting a portrait of his primary patron, Vincenzo Giustiniani.

The Entombment of Christ (1617/1618) by Dirck van BaburenCentraal Museum

The Entombment

Besides Vincenzo Giustiniani, there were of course other influential clients who commissioned prestigious works from the Caravaggisti. Between 1617 and 1618, Dirck van Baburen was commissioned in Rome to paint works for the Pietà Chapel in the church of San Pietro in Montorio. The theme of the main altarpiece was the Entombment of Christ. The remaining paintings were devoted to the Passion. Baburen created these works along with fellow artist David de Haen, with whom he shared living quarters.

Baburen’s "The Entombment of Christ" is based on Caravaggio’s famous work of the same name, which at the time was on view to the public in the Chiesa Nuova. As in Caravaggio’s work, Baburen combines the burial, carried out by Nicodemus and John, with the Lamentation of the Three Marys, all mourning in slightly different ways. However, Baburen alters the composition and interprets the scene in his own way.

Map of Rome (1676) by Giovanni Battista FaldaOriginal Source:

Just a few hundred metres from San Pietro in Montorio is the church of Santa Maria della Scala.

Museum Views - Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe by Haydar KoyupinarAlte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Around 1617/18, Gerard van Honthorst created the altarpiece "The Beheading of John the Baptist" for this church.

Credits: Story

The contents were created in connection with the exhibition "Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe" at the Alte Pinakothek München. Click here to discover the world of the Caravaggisti.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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