Style Italian Baroque
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 110 × 92 cm (43.3 × 36.2 in)
Current location Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica - Rome
Narcissus, also known as Narkissos (Greek: Νάρκισσος), was a hunter from Greek mythology known for his great beauty. He fell in love with his reflection not realizing it was a reflection. The word narcissist is derived from his name.
The painting conveys an air of brooding melancholy: the figure of Narcissus is locked in a circle with his reflection, surrounded by darkness, so that the only reality is inside this self-regarding loop.
Caravaggio was born as Michelangelo Merisi in Italy around 1571. He was orphaned at age 11 and apprenticed with a painter in Milan. He moved to Rome, where his work became popular for the tenebrism technique he used, which used shadow to emphasize lighter areas. His career, however, was short-lived. Caravaggio killed a man during a brawl and fled Rome. He died not long after, on July 18, 1610.
Much of Caravaggio's early works featured chubby, pretty young boys done up as angels or lutenists or his favorite saint, John the Baptist. Many of the boys in the paintings are naked or loosely clothed.
Even though Caravaggio was shunned after his death, he eventually came to be recognized as one of the founding fathers of modern painting. His work greatly influenced so many future masters, from Diego Velazquez to Rembrandt.