Making a Martyr

Abstract

 This paper constructs an afterlife of the Burial of Saint Lucy in order to identify Caravaggio’s altarpiece as an active cultural agent, which, being conceived out of its specific civic and religious landscape, shapes those same identities after its installation. A multigenerational scope illuminates this afterlife; it maps shifting viewer responses of the painting manifested in copies and guidebooks. This paper proposes an entirely new method for the study of Caravaggio in Sicily, foregrounding the objects and texts that preserve the reception of the Burial of Saint Lucy from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. These materials act as indices for Siracusan conceptions of the altarpiece since they are the visual or textual result of interpretations of the painting at various points in its afterlife.

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