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RSC cast take a lecture in History of Art

PericoloDr Lorenzo Pericolo, Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Warwick and author of two books on Caravaggio, joined Royal Shakespeare Company rehearsal room to answer questions about the notorious artist.

The RSC’s The Seven Acts of Mercy company invited Caravaggio expert Dr. Lorenzo Pericolo into the rehearsal room this week to learn more about the artist who inspired the new play they are currently rehearsing. Written by Anders Lustgarten, the play tracks the creation of Caravaggio’s masterpiece The Seven Works of Mercy, painted after the artist killed a man, and had to flee Rome for Naples.

The company, including the play’s writer Anders Lustgarten, director Erica Whyman and Patrick O’Kane, who is playing Caravaggio in the production, gained insight about Caravaggio’s approach to painting, his life and reputation, and particularly how he created The Seven Works of Mercy. Central to the play, the painting shows seven acts of mercy in traditional Catholic belief: Bury the dead; visit the imprisoned; feed the hungry; shelter the homeless; clothe the naked; visit the sick; refresh the thirsty.

Dr Pericolo was supportive of the connection forged between academic study and creative production, as it would help audiences understand that “History of art as a discipline concerns and is linked with our own cultural identity.” He found working with the acting company a great connection: “people who come from a different background such as theatre can understand and relate to what Caravaggio is doing, for instance how a script or scene can reflect visual techniques.”

He confessed no worry about factual inaccuracy, instead finding it “interesting” that the artist has inspired so much fiction. He explained that “To a certain extend it’s impossible to know the real Caravaggio as we have very little documentation apart from his works of art”.

The Seven Acts of Mercy begins performances in the RSC’s Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon on November 24. A coach trip for students at Warwick University takes place on November 24th, for more information visit

Dr Lorenzo Pericolo is the author of,

Caravaggio and Pictorial Narrative: Dislocating the Istoria in Early Modern Painting (London: Harvey Miller, 2011) Interview on Caravaggio's Ecce Homo (Columbus, November 2011).

Lorenzo Pericolo and David M. Stone, eds., Caravaggio: Reflections and Refractions (Aldershote: Ashgate, 2014).

AB 26/10/2016


Alex Buxton: Media Relations Manager, University of Warwick

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