National Gallery of Canada unveils rare exhibition Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome

Ottawa - June 15, 2011

Historic exhibition reveals new scholarship and displays rarely seen works on one of the most influential figures in the history of Western art

On June 17, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) unveils its much anticipated, ground-breaking exhibition, Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome. The exhibition brings the genius of Caravaggio to Canada for the first time ever and is presented exclusively in Canada at the NGC. On view until September 11, 2011, this prestigious, international exhibition features 58 works by more than 30 artists, 12 of which are by Caravaggio. Among them is the recently discovered St. Augustine, a painting lost since the 19th century which will be publicly exhibited for the first time. The exhibition is presented by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. For more detailed information, please visit

"Caravaggio’s influence on artists throughout Europe was profound.  Not only will this exhibition give viewers an opportunity to see some of the finest paintings of the
17th century, they will also see artists emulate their heroes while distinguishing themselves, a dynamic that keeps art moving forward to this very day," said
NGC Director Marc Mayer.

An exhibition that brings new scholarship to light
New archival research on the Caravaggisti in Rome reveals changes in both the 'geography' and chronology of the Caravaggesque movement. In addition, the structure of the exhibition emphasizes Caravaggio’s impact on different genres of painting, from musical scenes, fortunetellers and cardsharps to individual saints and religious narratives. At the same time, the carefully selected works of the best Caravaggesque painters helps to determine how Caravaggio's most important contemporaries perceived his works and which of his pictorial innovations had the most dramatic impact.

Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome is co-organized by the NGC and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas and curated by Dr. David Franklin, former NGC Deputy Director and Chief Curator and is now Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Dr. Sebastian Schütze, Professor and Chair of the Department of Art History at the University of Vienna.

The exhibition charts Caravaggio’s development over the course of the infamous period he spent in Rome and chronicles his profound impact on artists in Italy and Europe including Valentin de Boulogne, Gerrit van Honthorst, Simon Vouet, Peter Paul Rubens, Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter Artemesia, and Georges de la Tour. Within the exhibition’s thematic display, Caravaggio’s compelling images are juxtaposed with those he inspired.

International loans are a vital component of this exhibition. A total of 47 have been secured from public institutions and private collections from 13 countries throughout Europe and North America, including the Musée du Louvre, Galleria degli Uffizi, Musei Vaticani, Museo Nacional del Prado, The National Gallery (London, UK), The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Kimbell Art Museum. Five paintings are drawn from the NGC’s own European collections.

NGC’s European Collections Highlighted
The NGC possesses a particularly fine collection of European paintings including a number of works by Caravegequee painters. This exhibition underscores the depth of collection as well as highlighting new purchases such as the Pensionante di Saraceni and the Paulus Bor.

Caravaggio’s new kind of art
Electrifyingly original, dynamic, and evocative, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an artist whose life was rife with conflict and whose creations veered perilously between the sacred and the profane. One of the most innovative artists in the history of Western art, he introduced new techniques, including the use of light and dark (chiaroscuro) to heighten dramatic effect; he played with perspective and concepts of time and space and introduced a brand of stark realism that shocked many of his patrons. Rejecting previous artistic practices, he painted directly onto the canvas (rather than starting with a sketch); and used from live models (often from the outer margins of society) who posed in his studio. Through his scenes from the demi-monde, mythology and religion, he created a new kind of art that was a total departure from the Mannerism style of the Renaissance period, and which was accessible but dramatic, deeply emotional and profoundly human. Thus he broke the boundaries between art and life, overturned artistic conventions of the day, gave birth to the Baroque era and to modern painting.

What critics said about Caravaggio
 “In the aftermath of the Renaissance, what begins in the work of Caravaggio is quite simply the start of modern painting.” André Berne-Joffroy.

He was the first modern painter,” Roger Fry.

The NGC thanks its exhibition partners
The National Gallery of Canada would like to thank the following partners and patrons for their support:  The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Presenting Sponsor of this exhibition; the Italian Embassy in Ottawa, for its support on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy and the Canada Travelling Exhibition Indemnification Program through the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Public Programs
An exceptional range of educational programs on the many different facets of the exhibition, and related special events, accompany this exhibition. They include a day-long symposium featuring an international panel of experts on June 18, films, lectures, performances, concerts and a wine tasting. Individual Bell audio guides are available ($6), ten-minute mini-talks on one specific painting will take place daily at 1 pm in the exhibition and guided tours will be available for small groups in off-peak hours. At the end of the exhibition, a special space is devoted to Decoding Caravaggio and is an interactive studio with hands-on activities. For more detailed information, please see the separate fact sheet providing more comprehensive information or visit the Caravaggio micro-site at

Exhibition Catalogue
A fully-illustrated 334-page catalogue produced by the National Gallery of Canada and published by Yale University Press accompanies Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome. It contains essays by the exhibition’s curators, David Franklin and Sebastian Schütze as well as other noted experts including Michael Fried, author of The Moment of Caravaggio, Francesca Cappelletti, Nancy E. Edwards, Rossella Vodret and others. Available in English and French editions in softcover at a cost of $39.95, or in hardcover (available in English only) at $55, it is on sale in the NGC Bookstore or online at

Other venue for this exhibition
The Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas - October 16, 2011 — January 8, 2012

Tourism packages and special offers
Visitors from out-of-town can book a Caravaggio package with any of the following hotel partners: the Courtyard Ottawa Downtown, the Fairmont Château Laurier, Hotel Indigo Ottawa, Residence Inn Marriott, The ARC Hotel Ottawa, Four Points by Sheraton, and the Lord Elgin Hotel. Discounts on food and non-alcoholic beverages are also available at select restaurants, including Social Restaurant & Lounge, with a Caravaggio ticket stub. Visit for more offers and visitor information.

Admission and NGC hours
Tickets for Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and full-time students, $7 for youths aged 12 to 19 years, and $30 for families (two adults and three children). Admission is free of charge for children under 12 and for Gallery members. Tickets include admission to the NGC Collection. Tickets are available by telephone at 613-998-8888 or 1-888-541-8888 and at Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, and on Thursdays, until 8 pm.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art, including the extensive collection of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains the largest touring art exhibition programme in the world. For more information please visit

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Note to editors: The NGC’s online Media Centre, reserved exclusively for use by accredited journalists and other media representatives, provides a bank of images and credit lines for Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome. The NGC has obtained copyright permission on behalf of the media but solely for editorial purposes directly linked to this exhibition. Register for online access at:

For more information and to set an up interview with Dr. Sebastian Schütze, Professor and Chair of the Department of Art History at the University of Vienna please contact:

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada

Claire Schofield
Manager, Communications and Public Relations
National Gallery of Canada