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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:37

Caravaggio, Narcissus at the Source

Video transcript

we're in the lotsa Barberini looking at beautiful painting by Caravaggio narcissus nurse this is said the source is their title and this is a story from Ovid of boy who falls in love with his own reflection in the water so much so that he falls in and drowns and of course the flower is named after him as is the word narcissism that's right hmm during a Christian context a morality tale yeah yeah a caution about what's important and what's not important but it's an extraordinarily interesting subject for a painter that's true especially interesting because you get the reality of the figure and then there's a question for paintings themselves are kinds of mirrors or reflection this is way they certainly are and the idea of the artists responsibility in terms of depiction in terms of creating a faithfulness and the dangers that are inherent in that that's yeah it's interesting if you look at this painting that the reflection in the sense the painting within the painting is it dimmer image much dimmer and yeah it's really only the highlights that come forward that's true the painting is also incredibly abstract the surface of the water at the edge of the water is almost dividing the canvas exactly in half not quite but close creating this or this continuity between the hands that are touching and in the arms in a kind of circular form inscribed within that rectangle of the canvas but it seems to me yeah absolutely to be a kind of metaphor or a kind of meditation on a painting on painting and its goals is dangerous II as the painter had to think about how he was painting the so-called reality real figure versus the so-called reflection of the real figure and painting itself is a reflection and so the other thing that interests me is the foreshortening yes close task so either the figure himself means out towards us for the kind of longing all of those very baroque elements of really moving into the space of the viewer are here and that 10 Abruzzo that dark background that really makes us focus on the figure that fills the shape of the canvas the thing that's really vivid is the knee is the name and then also the the short sleeve he often draws our attention not to the thing that you think you should draw attention to the back of a horse you know it's that interest in realism where in reality the thing that you might look at or the thing that light falls on is not necessarily the most important thing in the room look at his left hand on the right side of the canvas let's take a close look because what seems to be happening is his with his right hand on the left side seems to be firmly planted on the ground he seems to be so absent-minded so taken with his own image that he seems not to realize that he's about to support himself where he can't right on the water he looks like he's about to fall so this might be that moment right well and it's almost like he's reaching out to embrace himself but he's fallen in love but hims better literally but he'll embrace only his reflection which is of course intangible you