The painting was created by the painter in 1608 on a famous plot - the execution of John the Baptist. This is the last stage of the work of Caravaggio (real name - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio), when his canvases completely plunged into the world of gloomy dark colors and equally dark plots.
This is not the only work of the artist, illustrating the last moments of the earthly life of a saint who predicted the appearance of Jesus Christ to the world.
The gloomy walls of the prison in the spirit of the severe asceticism of the Renaissance, the almost complete lack of props, why the impressive spaces of the picture remained empty, a terrible event that will happen in a moment, it seems, in the presence of the viewer, are thrilled.
The almost tangible sense of horror that is natural to the audience is reflected in different ways in the facial expressions and poses of the participants in the event. The actions of the warder and executioner are busily ordinary. One - manages the execution, the other - does his job: pressing the head of the unfortunate man to the floor, he is ready to carry out a decisive wave with a knife, clasped in the hand laid back.
Salome is holding a golden dish ready - in an instant they will put the head of the murdered sufferer there. Only a middle-aged woman, present during the mournful action, is experiencing what is sadly clutching her bowed head. The prisoners watching the action from behind the bars experience curiosity rather than compassion, which is quite natural at such a moment.
In its dimensions, the canvas surpasses the rest of the altar paintings of the artist. The huge size of the canvas allowed Caravaggio to portray characters in full size, but even with such an impressive growth, the figures could not fill the entire space of the artist’s large-scale work.
In the middle of the 20th century, a full-scale restoration of the work was carried out, since the canvas was badly damaged and was in a deplorable state. An amazing discovery was revealed to the restorers: a brief inscription was found, skillfully hidden from prying eyes under a small pool of executed blood.
At first it was believed that the author signed his creation. However, later, in the course of long discussions, art historians decided that several Latin letters are a kind of autograph of the painter, whom he simultaneously confesses to the crime committed by Caravaggio several years earlier.
The original has been deposited by the ministers of the church at St. John's Cathedral, in the capital of Malta, Valletta.
Birch Grove Picture Description