The Guardian of Mercy How an Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio Changed an Ordinary Life Today By Terence Ward
A Profound New Look at the Italian Master and His Lasting Legacy

Now celebrated as one of the great painters of the Renaissance, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio fled Rome in 1606 to escape retribution for killing a man in a brawl. Three years later he was in Naples, where he painted The Seven Acts of Mercy. A year later he died at the age of thirty-eight under mysterious circumstances. Exploring Caravaggio's singular masterwork, in The Guardian of Mercy Terence Ward offers an incredible narrative journey into the heart of his artistry and his metamorphosis from fugitive to visionary.

Ward's guide in this journey is a contemporary artist whose own life was transformed by the painting, a simple man named Angelo who shows him where it still hangs in a small church in Naples and whose story helps him see its many layers. As Ward unfolds the structure of the painting, he explains each of the seven mercies and its influence on Caravaggio's troubled existence. Caravaggio encountered the whole range of Naples's vertical social layers, from the lowest ranks of poverty to lofty gilded aristocratic circles, and Ward reveals the old city behind today's metropolis. Fusing elements of history, biography, memoir, travelogue, and journalism, his narrative maps the movement from estrangement to grace, as we witness Caravaggio's bruised life was gradually redeemed by art.
TitleThe Guardian of Mercy
SubtitleHow an Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio Changed an Ordinary Life Today
AuthorBy Terence Ward
PublisherSkyhorse Publishing
ImprintArcade Publishing
Published21 November 2017
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.

About the author

Terence Ward was born in Boulder, Colorado, and grew up in Iran. The author of Searching for Hassan: A Journey to the Heart of Iran, he is also a documentary producer and a cross-cultural consultant. He divides his time between Florence, Italy, and New York.

"Your book is a great act of compassion, like the painting it celebrates. Thank you for giving us such a gift." —Ingrid Rowland, New York Review of Books

"The author provides a rich tapestry that intricately weaves the story of an iconic painter and his influence on the viewer." —San Francisco Book Review

"The Guardian of Mercy is just superb. And bold. I can't think of a book quite like it. Just brilliant." —Pete Hamill, author of Forever, Snow in August, A Drinking Life

"I was stunned by Ward's account. This book does everything art writing should do. I am pleased beyond envy." —David Carrier, author of Proust/Warhol: Analytical Philosophy of Art and A World Art History and its Objects

"Ecstatic and soul-searching. Written with grace, with almost every sentence imparting an epiphany. An electrifying reading experience and a wondrous book on Caravaggio . . . Ward challenges us to undertake soul-work, even if one is a secular reader. Here, reading is an act of empathy and potential readers will read the book with passion and compassion, thereby becoming, in the words of Wallace Stevens, 'necessary angels'." —Pelligrino d'Acierno, Director of Italian Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature, Hofstra University

"Ward's work offers a refreshing look at a once-forgotten—but now much-celebrated—artistic genius. The author also reveals the subtle and profound ways in which art and life interact. Fascinating reading about a significant artistic figure and his legacy." —Kirkus

"Strangely compelling . . . a charming departure from the typical narrative of art history. . . . Ward weaves the story of Caravaggio—who was accused of several counts of murder and condemned to a death sentence by the pope, and who eventually died a mysterious, lonely death—with the contemporary story of a guard . . . stationed at Pio Monte della Misericordia." —Publishers Weekly

"Anyone interested in art and its power to change lives will appreciate this thoughtful work... as colorful and compelling as the painting itself." —Booklist

"This is a story of grace! Terence Ward's powerful, moving narrative interweaves Caravaggio's life story with those of people in contemporary Naples whose lives are transformed by the power of art—and mercy." —Elaine Pagels, Harrington Professor of Religion, Princeton University

"A great-hearted gift to our poor, violent, suffering old world. And, of course, Caravaggio's vision of mercy, luminous among the shadows, is sorely needed by all of us." —Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America

"Terence Ward takes us on a remarkable journey of discovery and along the way illuminates unusual and profound aspects of this long neglected masterpiece." —Jerry Brown, Governor of California

"In imaginative passages, Ward counteracts the 'tabloid portrait' of Caravaggio...and presents his work as the bearer of hope." —Leo Robson, CHRISTIE'S Magazine

"Ward brilliantly recounts Esposito's own transformation in the relationship to the altarpiece, along with the tangled past and present of Naples itself, and the life of Caravaggio." —Religious News Service

"Ward's writing is a flood that overwhelms the reader and carries him from the alleys if Naples to those 400 years ago." —Flamma Arditi, L'altra America

"Naples with her multilayered humanity is magnificently evoked, as well as the method of Caravaggio's composition in chiaroscuro, light and shadow. Bravissimo!" —Raffaele La Capria, Capri and No Longer Capri, La Neve del Vesuvio

"I just finished this book which I loved. Having seen the painting last year when I was in Naples, I can't wait to go back and see it through new eyes. A truly wonderful story!" —Natalia Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster
ISBNs: 9781628728187 978-1-62872-818-7 Title: the guardian of mercy category:ART 
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