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

Boy Bitten by a Lizard

c. 1600
Oil on canvas, 66 x 52 cm
Fondazione di Studi di Storia dell'Arte Roberto Longhi, Florence

Two almost identical examples of this composition exist (the other in the National Gallery, London). Their equally high quality suggests that Caravaggio himself painted them both.

Against a neutral background, a boy with a white rose behind his ear is standing behind a stone slab which leads diagonally into the picture. In his fright, his shirt has slipped down off his shoulder. While reaching for some fruit, which lies next to a vase containing orange blossom or jasmine, as well as a rose, he has been bitten by a lizard in his middle finger, which has given rise to ticklish erotic overtones.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.