The Guardian of Mercy: How an Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio Changed an Ordinary Life Today
Caravaggio’s most important work, The Seven Acts of Mercy, the altarpiece of the small church called the Pious Mount of Mercy serves as the fulcrum for parallel stories of the artist from the 1600’s and the current 21st century Neapolitan guardian of this work. In alternate chapters, Terence Ward, skillfully attempts to reconstruct the ambiguous events of the painter’s life while showing how the artwork impacts and affects the emotions and actions of its current caretaker. In comparing and contrasting the Italian culture from the middle ages to the present, not much difference is found.
The titles may have changed, but both saints and sinners still reign and compete, while corruption rules. The most beguiling aspect of this story is viewing the dissection of the painting and inspecting the elaboration of the seven acts in the visiting of the sick and the imprisoned, feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, clothing the naked, refreshing the thirsty, and finally burying the dead. Vignettes from the painting accompany each charity description.
The author provides a rich tapestry that intricately weaves the story of an iconic painter and his influence on the viewer. Those familiar with Italy will enjoy the bustling landscapes depicted of Naples, Rome, and Florence.