Island of Lampedusa, Italy: a Caravaggio for the refugees

June 6, 2016

The “Sleeping Cupid” by Caravaggio, one of the most iconic masterpieces in the world, is part of a special refugee-themed art exhibition in the Island of Lampedusa, Italy.

The iconic work of art by the Italian master Michelangelo Merisi, dating back to 1608, has been loaned to the island’s newly established “Museum of Faith and Dialogue for the Mediterranean” - directly by the Uffizi art gallery in Florence, Tuscany.

The “Sleeping Cupid” shows a baby boy laying down next to a broken bow and a arrow, and usually resides in Florence, where was initially acquired by Cardinal Leopoldo de Medici back in 1610. It is, in fact, the first time the painting leaves the Tuscan city.

The masterpiece is, according to the Italian authorities, a perfect symbol for the exhibition, almost like a metaphor, since it draws parallels with the sadly famous 2015 picture of a a drowned refugee child, Aylan.

Ilke Schmidt, curator of the Uffizi art gallery in Florence, explains: “He was reminiscent of the sleeping cupid, and the picture shows that there is a positive alternative to death: love”.

The amazing exhibition at the Lampedusa museum is the result of a joined initiative between the local refugee authorities and the Cultural Ministries of Italy and Tunisia. It will be viewable until October 3rd, with its breathtaking collection of selected works of art donated by various museum both in Italy and Tunisia, and a series of photos of refugees and objects recovered from the sea during the endless rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

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