Caravaggio Superstar


Please join us April 25 from 3pm - 5pm at the Ayer Mansion, (a National Historic Landmark and only surviving residence created by American artist and designer, Louis Comfort Tiffany), for a Reception & Lecture by Franco Mormando (Professor of Italian and Dept. Chair at Boston College) on "Carvaggio Superstar"

Italian Baroque artist, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) ranks securely as one of the most popular Old Master painters among museum-goers today. His spiritual life was colorful as well. Fleeing to Malta bearing a bounty for killing a man in 1606, he received not only protection from the Knights of Malta but entered the Order as a professed member or “Fra” as he signed his masterwork “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist” still on view at the Co-Cathedral of St. John in Valletta.

Hardly a year goes by without a major exhibition in some part of the world devoted to him or his influence or without a new biography or critical analysis of his work. In fact, he is even more popular today than he ever was during his own lifetime: Why is that?  This is one of the questions that Prof Mormando will ponder as we dissect together a selection of paintings from Caravaggio's entire lifetime, from his earlier known work to the last of his tragically short life. Striving to understand the message of these canvases, the presentation will at the same time help the audience to identify and appreciate the characteristic traits of his much-copied but never surpassed artistic style. Nowadays, with the media routinely proclaiming the sensational discovery of yet another supposed, long-lost Caravaggio, the presentation will ask the question: What makes a Caravaggio a Caravaggio?

DATE: Saturday April 25, 3pm-5pm

Ayer Mansion
393 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

Franco Mormando is Professor of Italian and Chairperson of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Boston College,. Born and raised in Manhattan, he received his B.A. from Columbia University and his Ph.D. (in Italian) from Harvard University. Author of various interdisciplinary studies on Italian literature and history, popular religion and sermons, he has lectured extensively on the art and culture of early modern Italy at various universities and museums including the Metropolitan Museum, the Frick Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC and the Galleria Borghese in Rome.  In 1999 he was principal curator of the Boston Caravaggio exhibition, Saints and Sinners: Caravaggio and the Baroque Image. He was also the originator and co-curator of another exhibition of Italian art, Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a Time of Plague, 1500-1800, at the Worcester Art Museum in 2006.  His book, The Preacher's Demons: Bernardino of Siena and the Social Underworld of Early Renaissance Italy (University of Chicago Press, 1999) was awarded the Marraro Prize for Excellence in Italian historical scholarship by the American Catholic Historical Association. His annotated English translation and critical edition of Domenico Bernini’s Life of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1713) was published in Spring 2011, followed shortly thereafter by his own biography of Bernini entitled, Bernini: His Life and His Rome (University of Chicago Press) and representing the first English-language account of the artist’s private life and public career. In September 2005, in recognition of his achievements in the promotion of the Italian language and culture, Prof. Mormando was inducted by the Republic of Italy into its honorary Ordine della Stella Italiana with the title of "Cavaliere."


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