The Musicians Painting
THE MUSICIANS PAINTING 5
Theability of art to represent abstract elements of life is afascinating and wonderful thing that artists make. This was the mostvivid realization I made when I visited New York’s MetropolitanMuseum of Art on 5thFebruary 2015. I looked around and my eyes were caught by thepainting “The Musicians” by the legendary Italian painterMichelangelo Merisi DA Caravaggio. The painting reflects a richbackground of music and cultural perspectives. It is more captivatingwhen the piece of art represents historical moments to the presentand future times. This is because the art covers wide elements ofcultural, social, political and economic life of various people thatrelate to the artistic representations.
Thepainting belongs to the genre of social, cultural paintings and usesthe oil and canvas technique of presenting paintings. The paintingmeasures 87.9by 115.9 cmbut is well placed to be viewed at close range an aspect that helpedme to analyze it closely. The painting by the Italian legend isestimated to have been painted between 1571 and 1610 and wasspecifically completed in 1595. According to Hibbard (1985), thepainting has been reserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art since1952. The painting reflects four youths playing music and dressed inquasi-classical costumes. Three of the four boys are playing musicalinstruments while the other one is seen to be reaching for grapes. Ashe reaches for the grapes, he also seems to be wearing like a cupid.
Apiece of art has several elements within itself that allows people tointerpret the type of scene portrayed and the activities involved.This is what opened my world of art to understand the painting “TheMusicians”at the museum. The description of the painting reflects the type ofmusic that the boys were playing at the time. They seem to be playinglove music from the look of the boy wearing like a cupid. Inaddition, the eyes of one of the boys seem to be smeared with sometears, an image that introduces passion in their music. Theindication of tears shows the love feelings that the boys might havebeen singing with as depicted in the painting.
Throughthe understanding of the piece of art, it is possible to comprehendthe context that the piece reflects and relates to. The painting thatI was staring was trying to take me back to the ages of history whenmusic was not well developed. In the time of painting this art, thesociety had just started appreciating music amid the increase in theinfluence of religion. The painting therefore acts as an evidence ofa society that allows the use of music to express emotions, ideas andinformation. For this painting, Caravaggio tries to insist the impactof music in the expression of love through the tears in the boy. Inthis regard, Caravaggio expresses the sorrows of love other than thepleasures that come with it.
Thecontext of the painting reflects the period when religion appreciatedmusic. Being a painter with a lot of relation with religious context,Caravaggio describes the period that the church had started toappreciate music and embrace its significance. According to Graham(2011), the church was at this time supporting the development ofmusic, especially among the young people. This is the significancethat Caravaggio expressed by having young people in the paintingplaying the instruments. Despite the religious connection, the scenein the painting seems to reflect a purely secular form of music. Theexpression of love by the boys and the lack of a religious images andsigns in the painting affirm that this painting reflects circularmusic and social life.
Themain interpretation of this painting is that religion had changed toembrace some aspects of social life in the contemporary life of thepeople at the time. According to Graham (2011), this is because areligious painter, Caravaggio was able present such a panting to thereligious audience as it was the case with other paintings. Accordingto Hibbard (1985), most of Caravaggio’s paintings were reflectinghis opinion on the religious topics. This was evident in the presenceof other paintings by Caravaggio in the museum. I got interested andmy curiosity led me to his other paintings “Denialof Saint Peter”and “HolyFamily with St. John the Baptist”which were purely religious and used the same painting style.
Theintention of Caravaggio as an artist in the painting was to presentthe impact of music in the expression of feelings and emotions. Theboys are passionately into the music and expression of love that oneof them has smears of tears. In addition, Caravaggio intended toillustrate that religion was appreciative of the circular music andwas approving the use of musical methods to express feelings. Throughthe painting, Caravaggio expresses the role of musical instruments inmusic and the ability of young people to develop the genre of art.This painting was excellent and I think the Caravaggio was successfulin expressing his intentions to the audience of the time, now and inthe future.
Graham,D.A. (2011). Caravaggio:A Life Sacred and Profane.London: Penguin Books Limited.
Hibbard,H. (1985). Caravaggio.Oxford: Westview Press