More about Giovanni Baglione

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Giovanni Baglione was a hard partier who used his art as a weapon.

Baglione was a part of the Roman art squad known for their public parades in honor of the god Bacchus (which the Vatican tolerated for some reason). Their processions culminated in a weird cult ceremony that transitioned into a booze fueled, orgiastic, whorehouse rager with a hefty side of illegal gambling. Every artist's association with this group left at least one demerit on their permanent record. For Giovanni, that was a litter of bastards. Given that he had the kind of career to easily provide for a second or third family about town, that's a much better fate than, for instance, incurable syphilis.

Besides the brothel cult raves, what most of these painters had in common was an affinity for the work of Caravaggio. So many artists were imitating Caravaggio that they were known as the Caravaggisti. And Baglione was entrenched in that world, cribbing off of Caravaggio's style to swoop in on Church commissions. Brother has to put food on his families' tables somehow. The big difference between Baglione and the rest of the Caravaggisti was that he ran his mouth constantly. Always trash talking about how Caravaggio was a big assh*le.

Then it all hit the fan when Baglione scooped a commission Caravaggio really wanted. Their cold war escalated, insults getting fiercer. Then Baglione decides to take it all one step further. He remakes a Caravaggio painting a couple times, the last one depicting an angel breaking up a tryst between the devil and Cupid. Caravaggio's head is on the devil, a famous Roman male prostitute is Cupid's visage. To Romans, it was a classic charge of sodomy. Caravaggio, in turn, wrote some sonnets that vacillated between calling Baglione a pervert and claiming his paintings were best used as toilet paper.

Baglione sued Caravaggio and some of the Caravaggisti for libel. No, Baglione emphatically told the world, his paintings were an artistic experience, not a fecal cleanse. For his part, Caravaggio barely defended himself. Instead, he used the trial as a soapbox on the topic of good art. Going so far as to name every worthwhile artist he could think of. Which was almost every painter in Rome except Baglione. Finishing by describing just how thoroughly everyone thought Baglione sucked. Mic dropped, Caravaggio spent a couple weeks in jail, and Baglione lost the case by winning. 

After Caravaggio died, Baglione tried to get the last word by writing a shade-throwing biography on his archnemesis. Nobody cared. Caravaggio was and is the king of Roman art from the 17th century. Baglione went on to a knighthood and some small renown, but Caravaggio's firestorm of burns from the trial are writ larger in history than Baglione's almost anonymous book.


Born 1566 - Died December 30, 1643
Baglione competed with Caravaggio for commissions and hated him with a glowing passion. Since they were both Italians, repressed hatred was not in their nature, so they got into one of the most awesome art feuds of all time. Here is how it went down:

1) Caravaggio paints a masterpiece "Amor Vincit Omnia" which portrays Cupid as a lusty and mischievous middle schooler.
2) Baglione paints a response "Sacred Love versus Profane Love" in which an angel with a sharp stick is about to teach Caravaggio's Cupid a very painful lesson on what happens when you cavort with the devil.
3) Baglione receives an award for his painting, but Caravagio's friends make fun of him and his prize.
4) Baglione then paints a second version of "Sacred Love versus Profane Love" and replaces the devil's face with Caravaggio's, so now it's a painting about Caravaggio caught having gay sex with Cupid (who bears a striking resemblance to one of Caravaggio's real life assistants).
5) Caravaggio and a few of his friends write some extremely unflattering poems about Baglione in which they suggest that he should take his paintings and use them to wipe his behind and that he is "an insult to art".
6) Baglione sues Caravaggio for slander, and Caravaggion is thrown in jail for two weeks.
7) Caravaggio dies, and Baglione goes on to write art history books in which he makes sure to portray Caravaggio as an uncouth beast.

Art historian Francine Prose summarized what Caravaggio had to say about Baglione in his testimony at the libel trial:
"All [Caravaggio] really wants to talk about is art: who are the good artists in Rome, … what constitutes a good artist, what good art is. The question of whether or not he libeled Baglione seems to him to be inconsequential compared with the fact that Baglione is a terrible painter and that everyone knows it."

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Giovanni Baglione

Drawing of Saint Catherine, Carried up to Heaven by Angels, c. 1625

Giovanni Baglione (

Italian: [d͡ʒoˈ baʎˈʎoː.ne]; 1566 – 30 December 1643) was an Italian Late Mannerist and Early Baroque painter and art historian. Although a prolific painter, Baglione is best remembered for his encyclopedic collection of biographies of the other artists working in Rome during his lifetime, and particularly his acrimonious relationship with the slightly younger artist Caravaggio through his art and writings.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Giovanni Baglione

Comments (8)




No offense to Baglione, but getting Caravaggio tossed in jail was a dick move. Who knows what he could have painted during that time?


today it would just be an epic twitter beef

pogo agogo

Is this guy showing off a self portrait IN his self portrait?? What a tool

pogo agogo

I gave him one star simply because I had to read his art historical rambling in my class and it was fucking awful

spurklin targedash

At historical rambling should be forbidden


Is that directed at me?


Hey pogo listen there ain't nothing wrong with a little self promotion, eh?? I bet you couldn't make nothin half this good so keep your negative opinions to yourself capeesh!