October 30, 2017

Getty Museum Presents Caravaggio: Masterpieces from the Galleria Borghese 

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Amy Hood
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Getty Communications

DATE: October 30, 2017


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On view at the Getty Museum, Getty Center

November 21, 2017 – February 18, 2018


Exhibition inaugurates the Caravaggio Research Institute, an international research

institute conceived by Anna Coliva, Director of the Galleria Borghese, and

supported by the Roman luxury House FENDI


Boy with a Basket of Fruit, about 1593-94. Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610). Oil on canvas.

Ministero de Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo–Galleria Borghese.

LOS ANGELES – The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today a rare exhibition of three celebrated works by the great Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), on loan from the Galleria Borghese in Rome, home to the largest collection of Caravaggio’s paintings in the world. Caravaggio: Masterpieces from the Galleria Borghese will be on view at the Getty Center from November 21, 2017 through February 18, 2018.


Saint Jerome, about 1605-6. Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610). Oil on canvas. Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo–Galleria Borghese.

            According to Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, “These three masterpieces are among Caravaggio’s best-known paintings, and we are extremely grateful to the Galleria Borghese for sharing them with our public. Caravaggio’s revolutionary genius made him one of the most important and beloved figures in European art history. The opportunity to see three of his most renowned works alongside the exceptional 17th-century Italian masterpieces in our own collection is an event not to be missed.”

            One of the most admired painters in history, Caravaggio developed a boldly naturalistic style that employed striking theatrical compositions and emphasized the common humanity of his protagonists. His art was both widely celebrated and highly controversial among his contemporaries and remained influential for centuries afterward.

            The three paintings presented in the exhibition exemplify the crucial stages in Caravaggio’s short but intense career (he died at age 39).

            Boy with a Basket of Fruit (ca. 1593-94) represents the beginning of the artist’s career when he moved from Lombardy to Rome and first attracted attention as a painter of realistic genre scenes and still lifes. Saint Jerome (ca. 1605) portrays the saint as a scholar reading and annotating sacred passages in the dramatically spotlight manner that Caravaggio made famous. In David with the Head of Goliath (ca. 1610), painted at the end of the artist’s career in his more somber and expressive later style, Caravaggio included his own features in Goliath’s head, purportedly in penance for his having committed a murder in May 1606. All three paintings were acquired by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew of Pope Paul V, who knew Caravaggio personally and was one of his primary patrons.

          “Caravaggio continues to exert tremendous influence on art today. His exceptional combination of truth to life and drama, and that famous chiaroscuro, gave birth not only to a new style of painting, but also inspired generations of painters with his psychological naturalism,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “These rare loans are prime examples of Caravaggio’s exceptional talent and innovation.”


David with the Head of Goliath, about 1609-1610.  Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610). Oil on canvas. Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo–Galleria Borghese.

           The exhibition at the Getty Museum is the first part of an international exhibition program on Caravaggio aimed at promoting the Caravaggio Research Institute, an international research project on the artist, conceived by Anna Coliva, director of the Galleria Borghese and supported by the Roman House FENDI through a three-year partnership with the Roman museum.

            The partnership between the Galleria Borghese and FENDI is part of a patronage begun by the luxury goods House in 2015, and is based on the company’s belief that beauty must be shared and spread, and that the incomparable richness of the Galleria Borghese, a reflection of the Eternal City, is a powerful, cosmopolitan pathway to promote a refined cultural sensitivity, both contemporary and universal, in the same way that FENDI pursues in its collections a true example of aesthetic research and the absolute sign of “Made in Italy.”

"The Caravaggio Research Institute is an international scientific project that seeks to reintroduce within museums the most advanced research to make them producers of culture and not mere producers of blockbuster exhibitions. The Galleria Borghese and FENDI are honored that the Caravaggio Research Institute will be presented to the public at the Getty, a leading actor in preserving, researching, promoting and enhancing art and a leading authority in the realm of digital humanities,” says Anna Coliva, director of the Galleria Borghese.

 “We are proud to support the Galleria Borghese and the Caravaggio Research Institute through this unique exhibition opportunity at the Getty Museum. It is increasingly a fundamental value, as well as a moral one, for FENDI to enhance, support and export Italian art and beauty in the world, its excellence and its talents,” states Pietro Beccari, Chairman and CEO of FENDI.

Caravaggio: Masterpieces from the Galleria Borghese at the Getty Museum is supported by Mr. and Mrs. Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie, Ambassador and Mrs. Ronald S. Lauder, Mr. and Mrs. Mark S. Siegel and Ambassador and Mrs. Ronald P. Spogli. With additional support from FENDI.

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.


The J. Paul Getty Museum collects Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts to 1900, as well as photographs from around the world to the present day. The Museum’s mission is to display and interpret its collections, and present important loan exhibitions and publications for the enjoyment and education of visitors locally and internationally. This is supported by an active program of research, conservation, and public programs that seek to deepen our knowledge of and connection to works of art.


Additional information is available at

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit for a complete calendar of public programs.


The Galleria Borghese preserves the collection assembled by Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli Borghese (1577-1633), considered the most beautiful collection in the world. The extraordinary Villa that houses the museum itself is an embodiment of the history and development of Italian collecting between the 17th- and 19th- centuries. The artworks are still housed in the place that was planned and created for it, in a kind of dream of a museum ante litteram, integrated with its decoration involving marbles, inlays, mosaics, stuccowork, and insertions of antiquity.

The Museum’s mission is to preserve, promote and study the Collection, enhancing research and cultural development within the national and international community.

Additional information is available at

The Roman luxury house FENDI was established by Adele and Edoardo Fendi in Rome in 1925, and was followed by the opening of the first FENDI boutique – a handbag shop and fur workshop. Soon winning international acclaim, FENDI emerged as a brand renowned for its elegance, craftsmanship, innovation and style. The collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld started back in 1965 and has continued since. In 1992 Silvia Venturini Fendi seconds Karl Lagerfeld in the creative direction. In 1994 she is given responsibility of the leather goods accessories and then the direction of the kidswear and menswear lines. In 2000 the LVMH Group acquires FENDI, becoming its majority shareholder in 2001. Today FENDI is synonymous with quality, tradition, and creativity.

The triennial partnership with Galleria Borghese fits into a project of patronage begun by FENDI with the restoration of the Trevi Fountain in 2015 and the Four Fountains, followed by the restoration and maintenance of other four fountains,, along with the opening to the public of the first floor (now exhibition area) of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in the EUR area, now FENDI’s headquarters, in order to enhance, support and export Italian art and beauty in the world, its excellence and its talents.




Within its collection, the Galleria Borghese houses the most important and chronologically best preserved paintings by Caravaggio, an ideal collection to study the whole of his career. Indeed, the six works owned by the Museum, are from his early established paintings, reportedly dated to around the late 16th  century and created in the Cavalier d’Arpino’s atelier – the Young Sick Bacchus and the Boy with a Basket of Fruit (1593-1594) – to his latest works, David with the Head of Goliath and John the Baptist, created during his dramatic getaway, while waiting for Pope Paul V Borghese’s grace, which was unfortunately granted too late, in 1610, at the end of the artist’s endless wanderings between Naples, Sicily and Malta.

From this outstanding collection, exceptionally preserved over the centuries, originates the idea of the Caravaggio Research Institute, which will see the creation of an international center of studies at Galleria Borghese, as an ideal and paradigmatic place for the study of Caravaggio’s entire body of work.

The aim of the Caravaggio Research Institute is to create the most complete database containing all data about Caravaggio through the creation of a digital platform so as to become an international primary reference for humanistic and scientific studies on the artist. The database will include bibliographic, documentary, archival, philological, historiographical, iconographic information and updates, as well as a diagnostic documentation in digital form.

The scientific validity of the database is assured by the high profile scientific committee, which include many outstanding professionals among Caravaggio’s scholars, with the intention to provide a valuable tool for specialists

The Caravaggio Research Institute will start scientific partnerships with all the museums, art galleries, foundations, churches and private collections around the world hosting Caravaggio paintings, thus creating an extensive network of national and international partners. The project addresses amateurs, art historians, restorers, conservators, museum professionals, diagnosticians, historians, students, and, above all, aims at employing a relevant number of young researchers in the different steps of data collection and data analysis.

Researchers will be able to access the database through different levels and personalized methods for consultation. Database queries will be accepted through a dedicated website providing different access levels: general, fully accessible data open to everybody; strictly specialist information reserved to scholars and technicians who submit a substantiated application to the museum; a third access level strictly reserved to the Caravaggio Research Institute operators and project partners. The Caravaggio database will therefore become the final repository of an inter-institutional undertaking: its digital format will intrinsically offer a synoptic, integrated understanding of data which might otherwise be less exact and complete, if they were accessed with a linear consecutive approach failing to afford the requested combination of elements.

When consulting the Caravaggio database for information, it should be possible to access, as rapidly as possible, the following data about a work of art: implementation techniques, date of execution, dimensions, origin, exhibitions it has been presented in, bibliography, conservative history card, images and written reports about diagnostic tests, and when the latest update of the data provided was carried out.

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