Caravaggio: Signed in Blood

152p. ebook available. Tradewind. Apr. 2016. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781896580050.
Gr 6–9—Beppo, a young man wanted for a murder he didn't commit, saves the artist Caravaggio's life, and the two of them, Beppo as Caravaggio's slave, seek refuge with patrons scattered about 17th-century Italy. In his debut work, Smith immerses readers in the fractious political environment and the economic disparities of the painter's time by detailing the sumptuous food and clothing available to the wealthy, the tensions between Caravaggio and his patrons, and the cloak and dagger of the artist and his pursuers. Readers see the less fortunate through Beppo's eyes: "Why is it that, when you are poor, no one offers you the least morsel—but when you are rich and powerful, everyone wants to give you something for free?" Art techniques, from the use of a cadaver to make Caravaggio's rendering of a subject realistic to the purchase and preparation of art supplies and paintings, are also richly portrayed. In contrast, Smith's characters are thinly drawn, and the premise of an orphaned child overcoming his circumstances isn't uniquely presented. Beppo's one-dimensional romance with Dolcetta and the rushed ending are also disappointing. An author's note with facts about Caravaggio and his only signed painting is included.
VERDICT Action sequences and the discussion of art may satisfy some, but the story itself is unremarkable.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing