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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571  1610)  Boy with a Basket of Fruit  Oil on canvas, 	c. 1593  70 cm × 67 cm (28 in × 26 in)  Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy
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Title: Boy with a Basket of Fruit
Description:

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571 1610)
Boy with a Basket of Fruit
Oil on canvas, c. 1593
70 cm × 67 cm (28 in × 26 in)
Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy

The painting dates the time when Caravaggio, newly arrived in Rome his native Milan, was making his way in the competitive Roman art world. The model is his friend and companion, the Sicilian painter Mario Minniti, at about 16 years old. The work was in the collection of Giuseppe Cesari, the Cavaliere d'Arpino, seized by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1607, and may therefore date to the period when Caravaggio worked for d'Arpino "painting flowers and fruits" in his workshop; but it may date a slightly later period when Caravaggio and Minniti had left Cavalier d'Arpino's workshop (January 1594) to make their own way selling paintings through the dealer Costantino. Certainly it cannot predate 1593, the year Minniti arrived in Rome. It is believed to predate more complex works the same period (also featuring Minniti as a model) such as The Fortune Teller and the Cardsharps (both 1594), the latter of which brought Caravaggio to the attention of his first important patron, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte.

At one level the painting is a genre piece designed to demonstrate the artist's ability to depict everything the skin of the boy to the skin of a peach, the folds of the robe to the weave of the basket. Also note the shadow along the back wall; Caravaggio is probably painting the shadow of him and his canvas. The fruit is especially exquisite, and Professor Jules Janick of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University, Indiana, has analysed them a horticulturalist's perspective:

The basket ... contains a great many fruits, all in nearly perfect condition and including a bi-colored peach with a bright red blush; four clusters of grapes two black, one red, and one "white;" a ripe pomegranate split open, disgorging its red seeds; four figs, two of them dead-ripe, black ones, both split and two light-colored; two medlars; three applestwo red, one blushed and the other striped, and one yellow with a russet basin and a scar; two branches with small pears, one of them with five yellow ones with a bright red cheek and the other, half-hidden, with small yellow, blushed fruits. There are also leaves showing various disorders: a prominent virescent grape leaf with fungal spots and another with a white insect egg mass resembling that of the oblique banded leaf roller (Choristoneura rosaceana), and peach leaves with various spots.

The analysis indicates that Caravaggio is being realistic, in capturing only what was in the fruit basket; he idealizes neither their ripeness nor their arrangementyet almost miraculously, we are still drawn in to look at it; for the viewer it is very much a beautiful subject.

At another level commentators have remarked the sensuality of Minniti as portrayed by Caravaggio, with his bared shoulder, slender throat, and languid gaze - so much so that more than one connoisseur over the centuries has taken Minniti for a girl. But if there is a hint of sensuous longing in Caravaggio's portrayal of Minniti, there is none in Minniti himself: he gives every appearance of a boy posing for a friend with a heavy basket, a little tired, but obliging. This is the first evidence of the psychological, as well as physical, realism that would mark Caravaggio's mature works.
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Goback 13 / 85 Forward
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571  1610)  Saint Jerome Writing  Oil on canvas, 	c. 1605-1606  112 cm × 157 cm (44 in × 62 in)  Galleria Borghese, Rome, ItalyMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571  1610)  Boy with a Basket of Fruit  Oil on canvas, 	c. 1593  70 cm × 67 cm (28 in × 26 in)  Galleria Borghese, Rome, ItalyMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571  1610)  The Seven Works of Mercy  Oil on canvas, 1607  390 cm × 260 cm (150 in × 100 in)  Pio Monte della Misericordia, Naples, Italy
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