Stamp Connect – Caravaggio

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What can photographers learn from Renaissance-era paintings?

– A lot!

A recent article in THE HINDU with a photo of Rajiv Menon (cinematographer) and Monalisa painting in the background aroused my interest.

The ace cinematographer talks about how light is shown so realistically in some of the well known Renaissance-era paintings. Though the article was short, it was an eye-opener for the photo hobbyist in me. What really struck a chord was the mention of Caravaggio in the article:

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Having recently added two philatelic materials that showed the works of the famous painter, I got more intrigued. When I looked at those stamps again in detail, I realized Rajiv Menon is so damn right when he said that cinematographers must observe Caravaggio’s works.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian painter. He lived in Malta for a very short period during which is produced one of his greatest works, “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist”. Malta issued two stamps and a miniature sheet in 2007 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of his arrival in Malta.

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A miniature sheet of “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” painting

If you observe the painting closely, you will appreciate how dramatic the whole painting is because of the realistic depiction of light. The real painting is bigger than life-size and is displayed inside the St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta. The intense dark background and the light effects offer a wonderful contrast to the situation depicted on the painting.

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