The Crucifixion of St. Peter
Oil on canvas
of Santa Maria del Popolo
As usual, Caravaggio departs from traditional iconography to emphasize
the gritty realness of the events narrated in Christian story.
The sheer physical effort of hauling up a cross with a man on it is
felt in the rope cutting into the back of the executioner in the rear,
the contrast between the taut muscles of the man in red and the old
flesh on St. Peter's legs, and at the bottom the array of
quotidian details -- the dirty feet, the spilled coins, the spade, the
Most of all, Caravaggio urges the viewer to contemplate St. Peter's face. He
still has the square beard of the traditional iconography, still the
balding pate, but the horror in his eyes as he contemplates the nail is unprecedented.
More of St. Peter
Photographed at the
site by Richard Stracke