National Gallery to Celebrate Caravaggio in Style

To mark the 25th anniversary of Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ being revealed to the public, the National Gallery of Ireland will host a free event.

Taking place November 15 at Merrion Square West & Clare Street, Dublin 2 will be a special talk by acclaimed art historian and writer Richard Spear. Professor Emeritus at Oberlin College, and Affiliate Research Professor at University of Maryland, Spear specialises in Italian Baroque painting, the style of which The Taking of Christ is a part of. He has written extensively on the work of Caravaggio in books such as Caravaggio and his Followers and From Caravaggio to Artemisia: Essays on Painting in Seventeenth-Century Italy and France.

Commissioned by Roman nobleman Ciriaco Mattei in 1602, The Taking of Christ depicts the arrest of Jesus. There are seven figures: John, JesusJudas, three soldiers and a man holding a lantern to the scene. Judas is seen just as he betrayed Jesus by kissing him, identifying him to his captors.

The painting itself has had a storied history. By the late 18th century, it was thought to have disappeared, and its whereabouts were unknown for about 200 years. However, in 1987, Caravaggio’s masterpiece was recognized in the residence of the Society of Jesus in the Irish capital. It had been hanging in the Dublin Jesuits’ dining room since the early 1930s but had long been considered a copy of the lost original.

From 5.30pm to 6.15pm Raymond Keaveney, former Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, and Fr Noel Barber of the Jesuit Community, which has loaned Caravaggio’s masterpiece The Taking of Christ to the gallery, discuss Caravaggio, and the impact of his painting on visitors since it was put on display in the Gallery in 1993.

This will be followed at 6.30pm to 7.30pm by Professor Spear’s talk. Both are free to attend and no booking is required. That said the gallery do urge people to arrive early as it is likely to be a packed house.

Coinciding with the special talk is a Caravaggio-themed version of Thursday Lates, the free after-hours monthly event hosted by the gallery. Enjoy music, food, drinks, creative activities – including nail art in collaboration with salon Tropical Popical – as well as guided tours at 5.30pm and 6.30pm. The galleries will remain open to the public until 8.30pm. All ages are welcome.

For more details, visit

Featured Image Credit –  Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), The Taking of Christ, 1602

On indefinite loan to the National Gallery of Ireland from the Jesuit Community, Leeson St., Dublin, who acknowledge the kind generosity of the late Dr Marie Lea-Wilson.

Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

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