Carrvaggio's "The Crowning With Thorns"
Carrvaggio’s “The Crowning With Thorns”

By Martha Nodar

A new European exhibit comes to the High Museum of Art this fall ushering in the allure of vintage treasures from an old dynasty.

“Habsburg Splendor: Masterpieces from Vienna’s Imperial Collections,” featuring objects, artifacts, costumes and works for art from previous centuries, opens Oct. 18 and continues through Jan. 17, 2016.

Among the 20 paintings spanning from the 17th to the 19th centuries included in the exhibition is “The Crowning with Thorns,” an oil on canvas masterpiece by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio – an Italian painter who came to be known as Caravaggio – the name of a small town near Milan where he grew up.

Oglethorpe University’s art history professor Jeffrey Collins said that because of disagreements among some scholars related to the Italian artist’s real name “we use the name of the city where he lived to identify him.”

Influenced by the Baroque era – a creative period known for drama and contrast when religion was at the forefront – Caravaggio captivates his audience, then, and now, by blending the physical, poignant, mundane, and spiritual aspects of human life through his expertise in chiaroscuro (blending dark and light).

“Caravaggio gives us such powerful, emotional depth,” Collins said. “He places the sacred stories in ordinary places. He gives us the deeply human and the mystery all at once.”

“The details in this painting are really terrific,” said Virginia Sweeney, the High’s coordinator of museum interpretation.

“Habsburg Splendor” will feature more than 90 artworks and artifacts tell the story, including arms and armor, sculpture, Greek and Roman antiquities, court costumes, carriages, decorative art objects, and paintings by other masters such as Correggio, Giorgione, Rubens, Tintoretto, Titian and Velázquez. Most of the artwork has never been exhibited outside Austria.

Sweeney said her department is “hard at work” preparing docents’ discussions and audio tapes to enhance the patrons’ museum experience during this exhibition.

For more information, visit high.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.