Helena’s breathtaking virtuosity on Caravaggio’s ‘breathtaking virtuosity’

Constable once said, “we see nothing till we truly understand it.” You won’t have seen Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus – even if you have ‘seen it’ previously – until 30 minutes from now, until you’ve listened to this podcast. You won’t have seen it because you won’t have understood the painting. Until now. The podcast is of course by Helena – and it is, as we’ve come to expect from her, a masterpiece. A masterpiece about a masterpiece. My sole recommendation is that you Google “Caravaggio and Supper at Emmaus,” bring up the National Gallery’s reproduction, and refer to it as Helena takes you through the painting.

Nothing to add except this: you’ve got a remarkable, very rewarding experience just ahead of you.


“meticulous attention to detail”

“what he’s doing more than anything is challenging our assumptions”

“everything in the painting has significance beyond its physical presence”

“one of the earliest pure still life compositions in existence”

“has the basket balanced precariously”

“it’s a clever device to bring the viewer into the painting”

“we find ourselves occupying the empty place at the table”

“by taking up our seat at the table”

“look more closely…the arm appears to be breaking the membrane of the canvas”

“see how the hand is tinged with the glowing red light”

“his gesture mimics Christ on the cross”

“Caravaggio’s use of chiaroscuro”

“distorts the light of realism to serve the purpose of the spiritual message”

“if you look closely you’ll see the shadow forms a halo above Christ’s head”

“he stands outside the charmed triangle”


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