The Easel

13th October 2020

The National Gallery offers a powerful but partial view of transgression

In the sixth century, Pope Gregory helpfully listed seven deadly sins. Are they still deadly? Sinfulness these days carries mild connotations – a second helping of chocolate cake. Most religious concepts of sin which permeate European art history no longer resonate. A London show reveals a single exception: the one such concept that resonates as much as ever is the scapegoat.

How Caravaggio destroyed (and saved) painting

In praise of the emotional expressiveness of the Baroque and one of its stars, Caravaggio. Commissioned in 1600 to produce three paintings for a Rome church, he “shattered Renaissance wholeness, clarity and abstruse optical effects … [with] a new, unideal naturalism. The Baroque feels vital now in the way it refuses to accept … rule-bound theoretical art and instead probes deeper into the core of lived experience.”