Pain­ter on the Run

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Young Adult - BY PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE

Marissa Moss, Cre­ston Books Hard­cover $16.95 (360pp), 978-1-939547-29-3

Fa­mous for his hot tem­per and con­tro­ver­sial paint­ing style, young Michelan­gelo Merisi da Car­avag­gio took Italy by storm dur­ing the po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious up­heaval of the Re­nais­sance, and Marissa Moss ex­poses all the drama and pas­sion of one of his­tory’s most cap­ti­vat­ing artists, in Car­avag­gio: Pain­ter on the Run.

In 1592, twenty-year-old Michel be­gan swag­ger­ing through the pi­laz­zos of Rome with tal­ent, pride, and a burn­ing need to prove him­self to the art world by gain­ing a com­mis­sion at St. Peter’s Basil­ica, the most ex­alted church in the Vat­i­can, but his re­fusal to con­form to the ex­pec­ta­tions of a cor­rupt pa­pacy and un­yield­ing per­son­al­ity land him in hot wa­ter on more than one oc­ca­sion, even­tu­ally more than he can swim through on his own.

De­scribed by a car­di­nal as hav­ing “an ex­trav­a­gant imag­i­na­tion” and be­ing “moody and dark, and bril­liant,” Car­avag­gio tells his own story of his larger-than-life per­son­al­ity and mag­netism be­ing at war with his self-de­struc­tive ten­den­cies. The nar­ra­tive is spiced with po­lice de­po­si­tions, notes, and pages of per­sonal jour­nals from friends, pa­trons, cour­te­sans, and oth­ers drawn to his ge­nius, all of which al­low other per­spec­tives to shine through.

No saint, Car­avag­gio none­the­less cap­tures the di­vine, and Pain­ter on the Run ex­plores sev­eral of his mas­ter­pieces as well as delv­ing into his much de­bated use of live mod­els, par­tic­u­larly com­mon­ers and pros­ti­tutes, to de­pict holy scenes from Catholic scrip­ture. His re­al­is­tic ren­der­ings and mas­ter­ful use of light and dark­ness are easy to visu­al­ize as Moss’s words seam­lessly build beau­ti­ful, dark—and beau­ti­fully dark—im­ages, can­vas af­ter can­vas. A must read for stu­dents, art lovers, or any­one driven to suc­ceed, Car­avag­gio: Pain­ter on the Run is his­tor­i­cal fic­tion at its finest.

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