Caravaggio painted the Supper at Emmaus between 1605 and 1606, probably painted on the Colonna estate in Paliano where he sought refuge after fleeing Rome for slaying Ranuccio Tomassoni, before his final flight from the city after being found guilty of murder. He managed to sell it, through the good offices of Ottavio Costi, to Marquis Patrizi and it was still in that aristocratic family’s palazzo in Rome in 1939, when it was purchased for the Pinacoteca by the Associazione Amici di Brera.
Thus its attribution is confirmed not only by its provenance, but also by reflectographic and X-ray examination which has identified a different initial version beneath it, thus proving that it is not a copy.
The depiction of the table with a carpet draped over it is a typical device of Caravaggio’s, found also in the first version of this subject which the artist had tackled earlier in a picture now in the National Gallery in London. Compared to the earlier version, this painting displays a greater intimacy and a plainer palette combined with a dramatic, almost theatrical treatment of light, underscoring the sacred nature of the moment.
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Supper at Emmaus
Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi)
OBJECT TYPE AND MATERIAL
Oil on canvas
cm 141 x 175
By the same author
In the same date/era
In the same room