Still life Caravaggio: Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit

Caravaggio | Canestra di Frutta

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Still life Caravaggio. Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit is considered to be the first Italian still-life painting, a pictorial genre which already existed and had a long tradition behind, and whose undisputed masters were the Flemish painters.
In Italy the use of still life was only a decorative addition, but thanks to Caravaggio at last it became an independent subject.

Caravaggio with his Basket of Fruit gave still life new dignity, by putting it on the same level as figurative painting.
Caravaggio didn’t search for aesthetically pleasing representations, but he searched for reality, because to him painting meant to accept life as it is, without decorations and with all its imperfections.

READ ALSO: Caravaggio: the paintings by Michelangelo Merisi

Caravaggio | Canestra di Frutta

Caravaggio painted this painting between 1594 and 1598 in Rome, and it is part of his first artistic production. It was a gift from Cardinal Del Monte, Caravaggio’s patron, to Cardinal Federico Borromeo, who in those years was in Rome, and today the painting hangs in the Ambrosiana Gallery of Milan.

READ ALSO: Free museums in Milan.

Description of Cravaggio’s Basket of Fruit

The basket of fruit leans on a flat surface, but we don’t know if it is a table, a shelf or something else. In addition, the background is neutral, so for the first time still life becomes the protagonist of the painting.
The details are painted accurately, and even the apple eaten by a worm, the dried leaf of the fig or the dust on the grapes deserve to be painted on the canvas.

What makes this painting a masterpiece of fundamental importance lies in the way the artist develops a new way to see painting and still life.
Caravaggio depicts things as they are.

SEE ALSO: another Caravaggio‘s masterpiece – La Morte della Vergine e la Crocifissione di San Pietro.



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8 thoughts on “Still life Caravaggio: Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit

  1. Thank you so much for this really interesting post. The painting is now part of the A-level Art History syllabus, which I teach. You say: “Caravaggio with his Basket of Fruit gave still life new dignity, by putting it on the same level as figurative painting.” This is one of my hobby horses!!! Basket of Fruit IS a figurative painting. “Figurative” means simply representational. It does not mean “figure painting”, although the human figure is often a subject of figurative art. Paintings of figures are sometimes known as figural art.

  2. Loved this article! It was really informational and helped me a lot. Right now I’m doing a small project of still life with fruit and this particular piece has been helping me a lot. I was wondering if you knew of any other still life pieces with fruit that are also significant or may have something curious about them like a fruit that wasn’t native to the area or something like that. Either way, thank you for this it has been of great help! Before Caravaggio what was thought of still life, especially with fruit?

    • Thanks Kimberly 🙂 Still life with objects, flowers, fruits, foods and animals was a pictorial subject that already exists in Roman painting, in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance. In these contexts, however, still life is always linked to a symbolic, allegorical or decorative character, it does not yet represent an autonomous subject. Caravaggio’s work marks the beginning of a new season of Italian still life, because it offers a vision based on truth and naturalism.

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