To be honest it looks like something out of a comic book to me. But then Caravaggio often does. It's a gauge of his "modernity".
If I'm a little suspicious, it's because Caravaggio is very much top artist at the moment. Only the other day someone in Porto Ercole dug up what they claimed were his bones and pronounced that he'd been poisoned by his own paints. There are exhibitions all over the place- and books- and only last night I was watching a TV film about him- a retread of Andrew Graham Dixon's entertaining investigation into the circumstances of his death. Any Caravaggio that comes onto the market right now is going to be worth a bomb- much more than ever before- so it's not entirely surprising if people start "finding" them in their attics and garden sheds.
This one apparently belongs to the Jesuits in Rome. Like it or dismiss it, it's a fairly spectacular piece of work- and it's odd that they should have entirely overlooked it until now.
When I was learning my art history, Caravaggio wasn't one of the very biggest names. He was important because he invented the chiraoscuro style that was later developed by so many other artists, including Rembrandt. I won't say Caravaggio has now eclipsed Rembrandt- because you can't eclipse an artist that big- but the fact is we currently find Caravaggio the more interesting of the two.
I don't really know why this should be. Is it because of his dirty realism- all that sex and violence? But sex and violence are always in style. Perhaps- this being an age of religious extremism- we're grabbed by his tortured spirituality. Maybe it's just his turn.
Anyway, he's the man. And that's good. Because he really is a fabulous artist.