Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio earned great notoriety for his revolutionary style and for his unconventional process of painting directly from live models. The special loan of Orazio Gentileschi's The Lute Player from the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC enables us to show how four other painters in early 17th-century Rome assimilated his style in their own distinct ways. The Lute Player joins three other Caravaggesque paintings from the Art Institute's collection by Giovanni Baglione, Bartolomeo Manfredi, and Cecco del Caravaggio.
Gentileschi was not only a close associate of Caravaggio's, he was also one of the leading Caravaggisti in the second decade of the 17th century. In fact, due to the overt stylistic similarities between Gentileschi's The Lute Player and Caravaggio's own interpretation of the scene, many critics in the 18th and 19th centuries mistakenly attributed this work to Caravaggio. However, more recent scholarship secures the painting within the corpus of Gentileschi's work and underlines how he mixed key aspects of Caravaggio's style with his own signature elements.