Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 113

Naples, 1578 – 1635
Drunkenness of Noah
Oil on canvas
164 x 207 cm
The discovery of this unpublished and imposing Drunkenness of
Private Collection, Córdoba
Noah comprises a substantial addition to the oeuvre of Caracciolo,
a critical figure in the development of European Caravaggism,
being the initiator of the movement in his native city of Naples.
Though trained in the late Mannerist school of Belisario Corenzio,
Caracciolo, only five years younger than Caravaggio, was deeply
affected by the presence of his celebrated contemporary in Naples
and radically altered his style after encountering the artist’s work.
Caravaggio visited the city in 1606, during his exile from Rome
after having famously killed Ranuccio Tomassoni in a duel, and
again in 1610, returning to the city after stopovers in Malta and
Sicily. Caracciolo’s first documented Carravaggesque painting
is his Immaculate Conception (fig. 14.1) executed in 1606 for the
church of Santa Maria della Stella, which is clearly indebted to
Caravaggio’s Seven Works of Charity, in the Church of Pio Monte
della Misericordia, and the Madonna of the Rosary (fig. 14.2) now in
the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
Caracciolo, though, was no plagiarist. Instead he intelligently
interprets Caravaggio’s dual themes of naturalism and tenebrism
in order to create his own individual artistic language. As evident in
the present painting, the artist tended to favour strong chiaroscuro
backgrounds against which his physical and sculptural figures stand
out starkly. Here, a luminous and powerfully foreshortened Noah
lies diagonally across the lower half of the composition, his grimy
feet almost seeming to jut out of the canvas. His three sons, also


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