Giovane con canestra di frutta (c.1595)

Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Giovane con canestra di frutta (Boy with a basket of fruit)
Oil on canvas, 70 x 67 cm
Galleria BorgheseRoma

The canvas comes from the group of works confiscated in 1607 from Giuseppe Cesari, known as the Cavalier d’Arpino, accused by Paul V’s emissaries of illegal possession of firearms. In order to gain his release, the painter was forced to offer his picture gallery to the Apostolic Chamber, donated shortly after by Paul V to his nephew Scipione Borghese, presumed mastermind behind the planned theft.

The work dates back to the period in which Michelangelo Merisi was working in the workshop of the artist from Arpino. It shows a young man, in a three-quarter pose, holding a basket full of autumn leaves and fruits, such as apples and bunches of grapes, which have nature’s typical imperfections.

With this canvas the artist demonstrated his ability to explore nature with a profound capacity for mimesis, devoid of aesthetic interpretations. In fact, the painting is admirable proof of representation from real life. His work in this direction reached its most mature phase with the isolated perfection of the Canestra di frutta [Basket of Fruit], painted for Cardinal Federico Borromeo (Milan, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana). (GB)


Caravaggio (1571-1610)
Canestra di frutta
Pinacoteca AmbrosianaMilano