The National Gallery brings Caravaggio’s paintings to life

The National Gallery brings Caravaggio’s paintings to life

By Melissa Darby, National Gallery


The National Gallery shares its experience of generating PR buzz and new audiences for its Beyond Caravaggio exhibition.

Beyond Caravaggio: Living Paintings

Beyond Caravaggio was one of The National Gallery's special ticketed exhibitions. It explored Caravaggio's influence on the art of his contemporaries and followers. Through his use of naturalism and dramatic lighting effects, he changed the course of European painting and remains a source of inspiration to this day.

To bring the exhibition to life and generate a spike in the campaign, we wanted to highlight Caravaggio's influence today with a spectacular performance on the night of the Gallery's Halloween Late.

In the lead-up to opening, we researched Caravaggio's influence and discovered the Italian theatre group Quadri Plastici. They had recently found fame on Italia's Got Talent. Further research revealed that Quadri Plastici (Plastic Paintings) is an Italian artform in which performers stage 'living' works of art. The tradition originated in the small town of Avigliano, Italy, more than 100 years ago and is still practiced today.

Inspired by the Rijkmuseum's flashmob recreation of Rembrandt's The Night Watch, we decided to bring Beyond Caravaggio to life with a performance by Quadri Plastici. It seemed the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the emotional impact and influence of Caravaggio's work, with a performance the public would remember and talk about.

What we aimed to achieve

We wanted to:

  • position the exhibition as a 'must see'
  • reinforce the exhibition's key messages, including Caravaggio's dramatic use of light and the power of his storytelling
  • be innovative in the marketing campaign
  • generate a PR and social buzz
  • drive sales for the exhibition

Download the case study to read on:
Beyond Caravaggio: Living Paintings (PDF)

Image: Quadri Plastici’s recreation of Caravaggio’s Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist as part of their Living Paintings performance at the National Gallery for the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition. Image courtesy of the National Gallery.

Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2017