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Dick Osseman | all galleries >> Galleries >> Villa Borghese - Rome > Rome B2 Villa Borghese 055.jpg
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22-MAY-2010

Rome B2 Villa Borghese 055.jpg

Boy with a Basket of Fruit
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Boy with a Basket of Fruit
Artist Caravaggio
Year c. 1593
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 70 cm 67 cm (28 in 26 in)
Location Galleria Borghese, Rome

Boy with a Basket of Fruit, c.1593, is a painting by Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, currently in the Galleria Borghese, Rome.

The painting dates from the time when Caravaggio, newly arrived in Rome from his native Milan, was making his way in the competitive Roman art world. The model is his friend and companion, the Sicilian painter Mario Minniti, at about 16 years old. The work was in the collection of Giuseppe Cesari, the Cavaliere d'Arpino, seized by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1607, and may therefore date to the period when Caravaggio worked for d'Arpino "painting flowers and fruits" in his workshop; but it may date from a slightly later period when Caravaggio and Minniti had left Cavalier d'Arpino's workshop (January 1594) to make their own way selling paintings through the dealer Costantino. Certainly it cannot predate 1593, the year Minniti arrived in Rome. It is believed to predate more complex works from the same period (also featuring Minniti as a model) such as The Fortune Teller and the Cardsharps (both 1594), the latter of which brought Caravaggio to the attention of his first important patron, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte.

At one level the painting is a genre piece designed to demonstrate the artist's ability to depict everything from the skin of the boy to the skin of a peach, from the folds of the robe to the weave of the basket. Also note the shadow along the back wall; Caravaggio is probably painting the shadow of him and his canvas. The fruit is especially exquisite, and Professor Jules Janick of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University, Indiana, has analysed them from a horticulturalist's perspective:

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