(b. 1571, Caravaggio, d. 1610, Porto Ercole)

The Toothpuller

Oil on canvas, 140 x 195 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

This painting presents a plebeian and vulgar aspect of Caravaggio that we encounter in his life but not in his works. Consequently, the proposed attribution of this painting to Caravaggio met with much opposition. It must be pointed out, however, that even in the painting's unsatisfactory state of preservation (it was restored in an incompetent and harmful way, making it more difficult to study) an original quality of execution transpires that corresponds to the epitomized achievements of the late Caravaggio. It is also to be thought that there must have been a prototype, as so many of the works of Caravaggio's followers deal with this type of genre scene. The presence of a prototype in Naples would help explain some of the returns to this theme, including the late and striking works of the 18th century Neapolitan painter, Gaspare Traversi.

The attribution of this painting to Caravaggio is not unanimous.