Welcome to Museum Reads, the Newport Art Museum’s Art-Themed book group for adults. We meet monthly, at the Museum and virtually, for discussion, and frequently are joined by the author.
This month, we’ll be discussing: “The Guardian of Mercy: How an Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio Changed an Ordinary Life Today” by Terence Ward
A Profound New Look at the Italian Master and His Lasting Legacy.
Now celebrated as one of the great painters of the Renaissance, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio fled Rome in 1606 to escape retribution for killing a man in a brawl. Three years later he was in Naples, where he painted The Seven Acts of Mercy. A year later he died at the age of thirty-eight under mysterious circumstances. Exploring Caravaggio’s singular masterwork, in The Guardian of Mercy Terence Ward offers an incredible narrative journey into the heart of his artistry and his metamorphosis from fugitive to visionary.
Ward’s guide in this journey is a contemporary artist whose own life was transformed by the painting, a simple man named Angelo who shows him where it still hangs in a small church in Naples and whose story helps him see its many layers. As Ward unfolds the structure of the painting, he explains each of the seven mercies and its influence on Caravaggio’s troubled existence. Caravaggio encountered the whole range of Naples’s vertical social layers, from the lowest ranks of poverty to lofty gilded aristocratic circles, and Ward reveals the old city behind today’s metropolis. Fusing elements of history, biography, memoir, travelogue, and journalism, his narrative maps the movement from estrangement to grace, as we witness Caravaggio’s bruised life was gradually redeemed by art.
Museum Reads is FREE for Museum Members and only $5 for non-members. It is held in-person at the museum, and also virtually. Be sure to register (via the link below) to receive email updates and Zoom links. For last minute registrations, please call the front desk for the Zoom link at 401-848-8200.