In January 1607, the Italian painter Caravaggio completed work on a unique biblical painting entitled “The Seven Acts of Mercy”. Prior to this, the artists depicted 7 acts on separate canvases. Caravaggio also had to repeat the traditional embodiment in the pictures of the teachings of the Gospel. But the artist took a fresh look at this process. For the cathedral Pio Monte, who was in Naples, Caravaggio painted a large canvas on which he placed all 7 acts of mercy.
According to the Gospel, the actions of mercy include 6 points, and one more from the Old Testament is added to them. The Christian tradition recommends that every believer perform the following good deeds: give food to the hungry and thirsty, shelter a stranger, share clothes with a naked man, visit a sick person and a prisoner in prison. The last item added is the instruction to bury the dead.
All acts of good deeds Caravaggio fit in one composition. The image seems chaotic, but it only enhances the impression of the subjects shown. On the right, the woman feeds the prisoner, looking around with apprehension. The artist combined two acts in one scene: to feed the hungry and to visit a person in prison.
Near the woman we see a funeral procession. The body is carried out, illuminating the path with a burning torch. A young man standing next to him tears off his coat to share clothes with two poor people: one sick and the other naked.
On the left side of the canvas, the hotel owner takes a lone wanderer. Just above Samson from the jaw of an animal quenches thirst. Maria and the Baby and a pair of angels are watching everything that happens.
Caravaggio was able to masterfully combine many plots. In the portrayed, a pathetic mood is felt. With the help of shadows and highlights, the painter gives the picture a dramatic character. It turns out amazing work in the traditional Baroque style.