In Rome there is a church, Santa Maria del Popolo, where you can see two of Caravaggio’s masterpieces: The Conversion of St Paul and The Crucifixion of St Peter. Caravaggio is known for his chiaroscuro painting technique in which he uses subtleties of light and dark, often highlighting his subjects by a bright light of which the source is unknown.
Entering the side chapel where these two painting are displayed is almost like entering a Caravaggio painting itself. The chapel is dimly lit, and as your eyes strain to find light within the shadows the timer on the recessed lighting suddenly clicks on and you are drawn into the wonder, beauty, and movement of both paintings.
Caravaggio can be very dramatic.
Last summer I came across a Caravaggio painting where I was not expecting a Caravaggio painting to be – in Kansas City, Missouri. Hanging in the European art wing of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of art, St John in the Wilderness is one of the few Caravaggio paintings in the United States. As I stood in front of that unexpected discovery, as I explored the feelings evoked when art, history, culture and travel collide, I knew that within a year I would return to Italy and bring with me some family and friends.
And today, here I am nine days away from a trip to Italy.
Traveling with me will be twenty-two women (family members and friends) who, whether they realize it or not, are off on this grand adventure because Caravaggio -- with his passion, drama, and stark portrayals of life -- led me out of the shadows of dreams and into the light of reality.