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The Last Caravaggio

Until 21 July 2024

Room 46

May 1610. Caravaggio is in Naples working on the last picture he'd ever paint.

Two months later, he died in mysterious circumstances. But it was during his final tumultuous years that Caravaggio made some of his most striking works.

His characteristic style includes tightly cropped scenes and dramatic lighting. He used real models with dirty feet and grimy fingernails.

Few paintings are better placed to tell the story of Caravaggio’s final years than his last-known work, 'The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula' (1610, Gallerie d’Italia, Naples). The painting is coming to London for the first time in 20 years.

We witness violence at uncomfortably close quarters. Caravaggio shows us an intricate interplay of guilty and innocent hands. And his own self portrait looks on, helpless.

We'll display this painting with the letter that describes its creation (Archivio di Stato, Naples), and our own late Caravaggio, 'Salome with the Head of John the Baptist' (about 1609–10).

In our Bicentenary year, you’re invited to contemplate this masterpiece. Explore the troubled end of Caravaggio's life, the stories of Ursula and Salome, and reflect on violence today.

Detail from Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 'Martyrdom of Saint Ursula', 1610. Intesa Sanpaolo Collection, Gallerie d’Italia Naples © Archivio Patrimonio Artistico Intesa Sanpaolo / photo Luciano Pedicini, Naples

Ticket prices

Free

Please book a free Gallery entry ticket to gain admission to the National Gallery. We encourage you to book ahead of your visit.

The H J Hyams Exhibition Programme
Supported by The Capricorn Foundation

 

Exhibition supported by

 

 

‘Unmissable one-act drama’
★★★★★ The Guardian

'It’s one big chaos of desperation, violence and beauty'
★★★★★ Time Out

'The final self-revelation of a troubled, violent genius'
★★★★ Evening Standard