Religion Past and Present

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Edited by: Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning†, Bernd Janowski and Eberhard Jüngel

Religion Past and Present (RPP) Online is the online version of the updated English translation of the 4th edition of the definitive encyclopedia of religion worldwide: the peerless Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (RGG). This great resource, now at last available in English and Online, Religion Past and Present Online continues the tradition of deep knowledge and authority relied upon by generations of scholars in religious, theological, and biblical studies. Including the latest developments in research, Religion Past and Present Online encompasses a vast range of subjects connected with religion.

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Canadian Conference of Bishops

(209 words)

Author(s): Clarke, Brian
[German Version] Founded in 1943 as the Canadian Catholic Conference (renamed the Canadian Conference of Bishops [CCB] in 1977), the CCB is a voluntary association of Canadian bishops for the coordination of their responses to social issues and of internal administrative measures within the church. In the years following Vatican II, the CCC became a truly nation-wide collegial body and played a crucial role in the implementation of the council's liturgical reforms, in the coordination of episcopal reactions to Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vita encyclical on birth control (cf. …

Canadian Council of Churches

(178 words)

Author(s): Gauvreau, Michael
[German Version] The Canadian Council of Churches, the successor organization to the Social Service Council of Canada (SSCC; est. 1914), was founded in 1944 as an umbrella organization for the various social services of the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Anglican churches, and maintained close ties to various women's organizations. Initially concentrating on moral issues such as abstinence, prostitution, and the censorship of pornographic literature, the focus of the SSCC…

Canadian Missions

(211 words)

Author(s): Grant, John Webster
[German Version] Under French rule, only Roman Catholic missionaries were permitted, including the Jesuits, several of whom suffered martyrdom in 1649/1650. In the 19th century, Anglicans of the Church Missionary Society competed with Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Grey Nuns (Grey Brothers and Sisters) for the souls of Native American Indians (II) and Inuit. Among the Protestant churches, the Methodists were the most active, both in Ontario and in northern…


(292 words)

Author(s): Fechtner, Kristian
[German Version] Candles have been used in Christian liturgy for centuries. To distinguish Christianity from other religions, the cultic use of candles was originally rejected, but candles soon became a standard element of Christian worship even in the Early Church. From the perspective of religious history, candles symbolize the contrast of light and darkness. Their biblical interpretation derives from John 8:12 (Jesus Christ as the “light of the world”). The c…

Candles, Blessing of

(169 words)

Author(s): Maas-Ewerd, Theodor
[German Version] Despite their multi-faceted use in liturgy and popular piety, candles were not originally blessed or “consecrated.” The Easter candle first attested in 384 for Piacenza (PL 30, 182f.) consitutes an exception. Evening light blessings attested since the 2nd century survive in its “consecration.” Only since the 10th century have prayers for the blessing of candles appeared, which were used in processions, first and foremost in the procession …


(1,161 words)

Author(s): Schreiner, Stefan | Wirtler, Ulrike
[German Version] I. Hebrew Bible and Judaism – II. Christianity I. Hebrew Bible and Judaism According to 1 Kgs 7:49, the furnishings of the First Temple (II) included, in addition to gold and silver candlesticks that belonged the temple treasury but were not otherwise used (1 Chr 28:12, 18; Jer 52:19), “ten candlesticks of pure gold” of which five stood respectively on each side of the holy of holies. Following rabbinic tradition ( b. Men. 28b), the menorah, i.e. the seven-branched (or seven-armed) candelabrum that Moses ¶ had made (Exod 25:31; 37:17) after being shown a mo…


(249 words)

Author(s): Piepke, Joachim
[German Version] represents an Afro-Brazilian mixed religion from African and Christian elements; it is based on the Bantu word candombe (= percussion instrument). Other mixed forms appear under the names Umbanda, Macumba, Catimbó, and Batuque. The center of Candomblé continues to be Salvador da Bahia. The roots of Candomblé trace back principally to West African Yoruba culture which prevailed over Bantu cultures in Brazil. Today, between 20% and 30% of the population sta…

Canisius, Peter (Saint)

(398 words)

Author(s): Decot, Rolf
[German Version] (Peter Kanis until c. 1547; May 8, 1521, Nijmegen – Dec 21, 1597, Fribourg, ¶ Switzerland) contributed to the renewal of the Catholic Church after the Reformation. Residing in Cologne from 1535 onward, he became the first German Jesuit in 1543. He turned to Charles V of Germany for support against the reforming attempt of the archbishop of Cologne (Hermann of Wied). After a brief stay at the Council of Trent and the continuation of his Jesuit training in Rome …

Cankov, Stefan

(234 words)

Author(s): Döpmann, Hans-Dieter
[German Version] (Zankow; Jul 4, 1881, Gorna Oryakhovitsa – Mar 20, 1965, Sofia). A Bulgarian Orthodox theologian, Cankov earned his Dr. theol. in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) in 1905, his Dr. jur. in Zürich in 1918, ¶ and received honorary doctorates from Athens (1936), Oxford (1937), Berlin (1940), Sofia (1953), and Budapest (1955). He was professor of canon and matrimonial law and of Christian sociology from 1923 to 1960, rector of the University of Sofia from 1940 to 1941, as well as a member of the Bul…


(7 words)

[German Version] Ritual Killing

Cano, Melchior

(283 words)

Author(s): Körner, Bernhard
[German Version] (1509, Tarancón or Pastrana – Sep 30, 1560, Toledo), a Dominican friar (1523) and disciple of Francisco de Vitoria. He lectured as professor in Valadolid, Alcala, and Salamanca, and was conciliar theologian at Trent in 1551/1552 (Trent, Council of). His chief work, De locis theologicis libri duodecim (publ. posthumously in 1563; unfinished), exerted a lasting influence on Catholic epistemology and methodology on account of its thorough theological treatment of the subject matter. Cano's philosophical orie…


(4,367 words)

Author(s): Pezzoli-Olgiati, Daria | Schindler, Alfred | Huizing, Klaas | Troianos, Spyros N. | Felmy, Karl Christian | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Church History – III. Fundamental Theology – IV. Orthodox Law – V. Eastern Poetry – VI. Islam – VII. Buddhism – VIII. Taoism I. History of Religion The canon can be defined as a complex process of selection of documents regarded as authoritative; from the totality of the extant written tradition, documents are set apart according to certain criteria as holy or inspired (Inspiration/Theopneustia). Although the concept of the canon as a normative collection…

Canonesses Regular

(294 words)

Author(s): Auge, Oliver
[German Version] (from Lat. canonicae) first appeared in the Greek church in the 4th century, in the West in the 8th. The term derives from the canon in which these women were registered. Initially, the title was given to all women leading a religious life but not bound by monastic vows. The Aachen Institutiones of 816 defined canonesses as a community under abbatial supervision and following certain rules, albeit enjoying legal and personal privileges such as possession of personal property, having their own curiae, permission to vi…

Canonical Age

(239 words)

Author(s): Becker, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] Like secular law, canon law also distinguishes different stages of life that are of significance for the legal assessment of the legal actions of a natural person, or for access to the stages of ordination and to offices. For tort responsibility, for example, a ¶ person must have completed the 16th year (c. 1323 no. 1 CIC/1983 and c. 1413 §1 CCEO). From this age on, persons who have not yet come of age can also function as godparents (c. 874 §1 no. 2 CIC/1983 and c. 685 §2 CCEO). Admission to the novitiate requires a person to be 17 years old (c. 643 §1 no. 1 CIC/1983 and cc. 450 no. 4…

Canonical Approach

(966 words)

Author(s): Seitz, Christopher R. | Wall, Robert W.
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. New Testament I. Old Testament “Canonical approach” refers to a primarily synchronic interpretation of the canonized final text of the Bible in the context of all scriptures of the biblical canon (Bible: II, 2; III, 2), which, in view of the various confessional forms of the canon, can and will claim validity only within the boundaries of a faith community. It contrasts with a historical-critical exegesis oriented toward the literary-hi…

Canonical Lists

(349 words)

Author(s): Aland, Barbara
[German Version] are lists of the biblical books of the Old Testament and New Testament (cf. Bible II, 2; III, 2) compiled in the Early Church either by individuals or by synods. They possessed authoritative character, though in practice this was not always evident. The earliest canonical indices are the Muratorian Fragment (see also Canon) from Rome (c. 200) and the index of the Codex Claromontanus (3rd cent.). 1 and 2 Thessalonians along with Philemon are inadvertently omitted here, as is Hebrews, while Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Acts of Paul, and the Apocalypse of Peter are i…

Canonical Provision

(185 words)

Author(s): Rees, Wilhelm
[German Version] is a technical term in Catholic canon law for all types of sovereign grants through individual administrative decrees (c. 48 CIC/1983; c. 1510 § 2, 1 CCEO; administration: IV, 3). More precisely, it involves the grant of legal capacity (Juridical persons: cc. 114 § 1; 116 § 2 CIC/1983; public Voluntary associations [II, 1.b]: c. 313 CIC/1983), of authorities (Delegation: cc. 131 § 1; 133; 137 CIC/1983; the authority to confirm and hear confession: cc. 882; 969 CIC/1983; delegation of the authority to perform marriages: c. 1111 CIC/1983), of names and titles (cf. cc.…

Canon in Confucianism

(8 words)

[German Version] Confucianism

Canon in Hinduism

(8 words)

[German Version] Vedas


(582 words)

Author(s): Döpmann, Hans-Dieter
[German Version] I. Catholic Church – II. Orthodox Churches (Latin canonisatio, Greek ᾽Αν̆ακῆρυξις/ anakḗryxis, “public proclamation”) refers to the placement in the list (canon) of saints (Saints/Veneration of saints). Such placement includes remembrance in worship, a vita, an icon (Icons; Saints, icons and attributes), the possibility of having an altar or church dedicated to the saint (Consecration/Ordination/Dedication), and the appropriation of the saint's name at ba…

Canon Law/Church Law

(11,049 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg | Kalb, Herbert | Puza, Richard | Pirson, Dietrich | Engelhardt, Hanns | Et al.
[German Version] I. History – II. The Present – III. Orthodox Church – IV. The Study of Canon Law and Church Law – V. Practical Theology – VI. Oriental Orthodox Canon Law I. History 1. Early Church. The church has had laws ever since Christians recognized the need for a generally recognized authority to regulate the uncertainties, problems, and controversies involving church discipline brought about by the rapid expansion of Christianity. After the death of the initial authority figures (e.g. the fou…

Canon, Muratorian

(8 words)

[German Version] Muratorian Fragment

Canons/Canon Collections

(812 words)

Author(s): Ohme, Heinz
[German Version] Into the 4th century, synods did not call their decisions “canon” or “regula.” In the Greek East, they used the term horos as the older term for ecclesiastical decisions (Ankyra, cc. 6, 19, et passim). In the Latin language sphere, designations including placita, statuta, instituta, decreta, sententiae were drawn from Roman legal language as the specific terminology applicable in such cases. The designation as canons appeared for the first time at the Synod of Antioch c. 330 (cc. 19 etc.) and quickly established itself in the East (Bas. Ep. 188, cc. 4, 10). Th…

Canons Regular

(334 words)

Author(s): Auge, Oliver
[German Version] Members of a chapter (Cathedral chapter) that exists to celebrate liturgical worship in cathedral and college churches under the leadership of the bishop or an archipresbyter. The term, attested in France since 535, derives from inclusion in the list, called the canon, of those clergy of a church entitled to maintenance or obligated to live according to the canons. A specific church regulation, offered in 755 by Chrodegang of Metz on the local, and in 816 by the Insitutiones Aquisgranenses on the general level, distinguishes canons from monasticism. I…

Canons Regular of St. Augustine

(603 words)

Author(s): Crusius, Irene
[German Version] The ideal of a communal life in discipleship to Christ also moved the early medieval clergy of episcopal cities to the vita communis on the example of Augustine. However, only the Gregorian Reform movement (Gregory VII) produced the adoption of strict monastic forms of life for ¶ the clergy, too, so that, alongside the secular collegiate chapters who lived according to the 816 Rule of Aachen, communities of clergy arose who followed the so-called Augustinian Rule ( canonici regulares; Augustine, Rule of). Their way of life between secular clergy and …

Canstein, Karl Hildebrand von

(279 words)

Author(s): Schicketanz, Peter
[German Version] (Baron; Aug 4, 1667, Lindenberg in Mark Brandenburg – Aug 19, 1719, Berlin). The son of the Prussian Kammerpräsident Raban v. Canstein, Canstein studied law in Frankfurt an der Oder, traveled throughout Europe, and took part in a military campaign. While suffering from an illness, he vowed to devote the rest of his life to the service of God, something he accomplished without ever holding public office. On returning to Berlin, he made the acquaintance of P.J. Spen…


(1,082 words)

Author(s): Petzoldt, Martin
[German Version] The term cantata now refers especially to the polyphonic church music with multiple movements as specified by J.S. Bach and whose text is based on ¶ the proprium of the Sundays and festival days of the church year. In contrast to the sonata (a “sounding” instrumental piece), the cantata is a choral piece that developed in the 17th century largely in Italy as secular music. Textually, non-strophic, so-called madrigal poetry is used for arias and recitatives. In Germany, ca…


(535 words)

Author(s): Köpf, Ulrich
[German Version] Seat of a bishopric in the county of Kent, England. Situated at an important road junction during the Roman period, Canterbury became the main settlement of the Cantiani in the first century ce and shows evidence of Christianization from the beginning of the 4th century. The conquest of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons dealt a severe blow to the development of the city. King Ethelbert made it the capital of the kingdom of Kent, while the Roman monk Augustine of Canterbury, a missionary dispatched by Pop…


(435 words)

Author(s): Halmo, Joan
[German Version] (from Lat. canticulum, “little song”): poetic prayer or song from the Bible but outside the Psalter. Of the canticles which have been put to liturgical use, most are from the OT (including apocryphal/deuterocanonical literature), for example “Benedicite, omnia opera domini,” or “The Song of Creation,” which comes from the prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace (Daniel, Additions to). Examples of NT canticles are the three from the Gospel of Luke ( Magnificat , 1:46–55, Benedictus , 1:68–79, Nunc dimittis , 2:29–32). Canticles in their …


(317 words)

Author(s): Brusniak, Friedhelm
[German Version] From the 4th century, the term cantor (Lat.) refers to a singer, chanter, or leader of church music; from the 10th century it refers also to an office held by a member of the cathedral chapter. In the traditional, pre-reformation understanding, the cantor was distinguished from the trained musicus; this distinction survived well into the 18th century. The Protestant image of the leader of a city Kantorei following the model of Johann Walter in Torgau (1525) combined this post with the duties of an ac…


(228 words)

Author(s): Weber, Franz
[German Version] socio-religious liberation movement in Bahia (Brazil), founded by Antonio Vicente Mendes Maciel (1830–1897). In his popular preaching, Mendes Maciel set the “law of God” against “human law,” which he saw embodied in the agnosticism of the elite of the Republic of Brazil (established 1889). For him, “only God is great.” Mendes Maciel proclaimed God as “the Father of the poor” and Jesus as “poor, simple, suffering.” Mendes Maciel was rejecte…


(561 words)

Author(s): Seiwert, Hubert
[German Version] After Buddhism and Catholicism, Caodaism is the third largest religion in Vietnam (practiced by an estimated 3% to 10% of the population). Its name derives from the title of the supreme divinity, Cao Dai (lit. “highest palace”). Caodaism combines Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and Christian elements with aspects of Vietnam's indigenous religion. Outside Vietnam, Caodaism is practiced almost exclusively by Vietnamese emigrants. The founder of Caodaism was Ngo Van Chieu (1878–1932, also known as Ngo Minh Chieu), a civil servant in the Fre…


(373 words)

Author(s): Rese, Friederike
[German Version] the power or ability to do something. Plato distinguished between a “capacity to effect something” (δύναμις τού ποιείν/ dýnamis toú poieín) and a “capacity to suffer something” (δύναμις τού πάσχειν/ dýnamis toú páschein; Soph. 247e–248e). Aristotle ¶ adopted this distinction between two types of capacity and expanded upon it by adding the distinction between “capacity” or “possibility” (δύναμις) and “reality” (ἐνέργεια/ enérgeia; act and potency). As an active or passive “principle of change or movement” ( Metaph. V 12, 1019b19–20), a capacity mani…

Capadose, Abraham

(278 words)

Author(s): Vree, Jasper
[German Version] (Aug 22, 1795, Amsterdam – Dec 16, 1874, The Hague) came from a distinguished Sephardic Jewish family. While working as a physician in Amsterdam, he and his friend U. da Costa were baptized in 1822. Shortly thereafter, Capadose began to fiercely oppose any divergence from orthodoxy within the Dutch Reformed Church. He denounced vaccination against smallpox as an attempt to thwart the will of God. From 1833 until his death, he lived as a citizen without office in The Hague, save for a longer stay in Switzerland (1836–1837). Having come under the influence of the Réveil movem…


(227 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] Although sherds from between 3000 and 2000 bce document earlier habitation (no Iron Age remains have been found), Capernaum (Gk Καφαρναούμ/ Kapharnaoúm, Heb. כֶפַּר נַתוּם/kepar naḍûm, Arab. Telḍum) was apparently founded only in the 5th century bce; with the advantages of the long-distance route running through it and the fertility of the area, Capernaum grew steadily. Capernaum reached its floruit in the Byzantine period, when it had approx. 1500 inhabitants; from the 9th century the settlemen…

Cape Town

(607 words)

Author(s): Saunders, Christopher
[German Version] lies on the shores of Table Bay, at the foot of Table Mountain. It was founded in 1652 by the Dutch and originally called De Kaap, later Kaapstad, then Cape Town. With the arrival of the first Anglican bishop, Robert Gray (1809–1872), in 1848, Cape Town attained city status. Because Cape Town was the starting point for the European colonization of South Africa, many white South Africans came to call it “the mother city.” The Dutch commander Jan van Riebeeck, who founded the settlement, originally envisioned Cape Town as a provision station for sh…

Cape Verde,

(474 words)

Author(s): Sigrist, Christian
[German Version] since 1975 República de Cabo Verde, approx. 600 km west of Dakar. Fifteen islands (4,033 km2), of which nine are inhabited, population 50,000, with at least the same number living abroad. The official languages are Portuguese, and the vernacular Crioulo. The Portuguese discovered several of the islands in 1456. Soon afterwards, Portuguese colonists established the first European colony on the “other side” of the Atlantic. On the basis of a feudal means of production d…


(6 words)

[German Version] Philistines


(858 words)

Author(s): Sautter, Hermann
[German Version] I. Few concepts in economics are as slippery as the concept of “capital.” “Capital” can be defined narrowly or broadly, in terms of macro-economics or of business, according to theories of production or distribution; moreover, “capital” means something different to political scientists and sociologists than it does to economists. In a very general economic sense, “capital” may be understood to include anything which alongside unqualified work acts…


(2,041 words)

Author(s): Altvater, Elmar
[German Version] The term capitalism came into use in political economics (Economy) and the social sciences only more than 100 years after the Industrial Revolution (Industrialization), after the formation of capitalist society had largely become established, initially in England and then in continental Western Europe. A. Smith and D. Ricardo did not employ the term, and even in Das Kapital by K. Marx the term can be found only once (in vol. II, ch. 4). W. Sombart was the first to introduce the term capitalism in his epochal analysi…


(598 words)

Author(s): Cancik, Hubert
[German Version] In the narrow sense, Capitol (Lat. caput, “head”) refers to the part of the mons Capitolinus which faces the Tiber; in a broader sense it refers to the whole hill including the arx (“fortress”), which was at one time connected to the Quirinal, and the hollow, known as the Asylum, between the two hilltops. Additionally, the Capitol is the name of the principal temple in Rome and its colonies, the aedes Capitolina of Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, and for any symbolic place which demonstrates the Roman relationship between religion and power in…

Capito, Wolfgang

(285 words)

Author(s): Scheible, Heinz
[German Version] (1481 [not 1478] Hagenau – Nov 4, 1541, Strasbourg) studied in Ingolstadt (1501), Heidelberg (1504), Freiburg (1505, 1515 Dr. theol.). In 1512, he became seminary preacher in Bruchsal, in 1515 cathedral preacher and professor in Basel, an eminent Hebraist. Capito was sympathetic to Erasmus and produced the first edition of Luther's collected writings in 1518. In 1520, Capito became cathedral preacher in Electoral Mainz. As counselor to archbishop…


(298 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Frank
[German Version] (Lat. Capitularia Capitula; from division into chapters) were an order of law and life issued by the Frankish kings, with authority of banishment, relating to all the moral, disciplinary, liturgical and educational questions of Christian people. They were divided up as Capitularia per se for the entire realm, Capitularia legibus addenda for particular areas of the realm and to supplement tribal laws, and “missi,” i.e. individual instructions for royal emissaries and counts. The capitularies were issued at imperial a…


(450 words)

Author(s): Mitchell, Stephen
[German Version] A rural area of eastern Asia Minor that extended from Galatia and Lyconia to the Euphrates and functioned as a bridge between the cultures of the Mediterranean and Asia. From the 6th century bce, Cappadocia formed part of the Persian empire (Iran). The Iranian influence on the culture, language and anthroponymy of the population was noticeable until Late Antiquity. During the Hellenistic era, Cappadocia was ruled by kings descended from the Persians, although powerful temple principalities remained independent. In 17 ce, Cappadocia was integrated into the …

Cappadocian Theology

(542 words)

Author(s): Markschies, Christoph
[German Version] The monastic theologians and bishops, Basil the Great, his brother Gregory of Nyssa and their friend Gregory of Nazianzus came from the province of Cappadocia in Asia Minor and spent most of their lives there. For this reason, they are often referred to by modern historians and theologians as “the three great Cappadocians.” A cousin of Gregory of Nazianzus and colleague of Basil, Amphilochius of Iconium, is sometimes added to their number. The t…

Cappellus, Louis

(145 words)

Author(s): Bartelmus, Rüdiger
[German Version] (Oct 15 or 16, 1585, St. Elier – Jun 18, 1658, Saumur). With M. Amyraut and J. de la Place, the Reformed theologian and Hebraist taught from 1613 to 1621 and from 1624 to 1658 at the academy in Saumur. Following Elijah Levita and against the arguments of the two Buxtorfs, Cappellus (Capelle) was the first Christian theologian to show scientifically that the vocalization of the Hebrew Bible is later than the consonantal text. In the controversy ov…

Capra, Frank

(300 words)

Author(s): Bauschulte, Manfred
[German Version] (May 19, 1897, Palermo – Sep 3, 1991, La Quinta, CA), the son of Sicilian farm workers, grew up in California; he got into the film industry as a young author and gag writer for the well-known slapstick comedian Harry Langdon. In 1928 he began his career as a director with Columbia Studios, where he made his breakthrough with the screwball comedy It Happened One Night (1934). The theme of the film, in ¶ which a rich young woman and a hard-boiled reporter find themselves on the run together, is the guilt-ridden relationship between the sexes. The film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) …


(414 words)

Author(s): Knobloch, Stefan
[German Version] The Capuchins, the third branch of the Franciscan order, after and along with the Minorites and Franciscans, to view Francis of Assisi as the father of their order, owe their origin to a reform movement with the Franciscans at the beginning of the 16th century. In 525, Matthäus of Bascio settled in the region of Ancona, Italy, following the oral permission of pope Clement VII based on his brothers’ support, with the intention of leading a strict …

Caracciolo, Galeazzo

(131 words)

Author(s): Campi, Emidio
[German Version] (Jan 1517, Naples – May 7, 1586, Geneva), count of Vico and nephew of Carafa (Paul IV), came into contact with reformation ideas in the circle around J. de Valdés and especially through his encounter with Peter Martyr Vermigli. In 1551, Caracciolo fled to Geneva, where he was instrumental in the establishment of the Italian refugee community. After 1559, he participated in the politics of the republic as a member of parliament, earning universal regard. Calvin, whose friendship Caracciolo enjoyed, dedicated his commentary on 1 Corinthians to him. Emidio Campi Bibliogra…

Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da

(218 words)

Author(s): Hüttel, Richard
[German Version] (1572, Caravaggio or Milan – Jul 18, 1610 Porto Ercole) is considered one of the great realists in the history of painting (Realism: IV). In 1672, the Italian art critic Giovanni Pietro Bellori wrote that Caravaggio's unvarnished vision of reality “corrupted the morals of painting.” Besides the realistic objectivity and verisimilitude of his pictures (almost all the models for his female figures were prostitutes), Caravaggio shocked his contemporaries with surprising compositional techniques such as bringing the viewer close in to the scene, as in The Conversion …
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