“The Guardian of Mercy: How an Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio Changed an Ordinary Life Today”

A book group especially for art enthusiasts.

June 15, 2023 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm At the Museum and virtually on Zoom

"The Guardian of Mercy: How an Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio Changed an Ordinary Life Today" by Terence Ward

Welcome to Museum Reads, the Newport Art Museum’s Art-Themed book group for adults. We meet monthly, at the Museum and virtually, for discussion, and frequently are joined by the author.

A Profound New Look at the Italian Master and His Lasting Legacy.

Now celebrated as one of the great painters of the Renaissance, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio fled Rome in 1606 to escape retribution for killing a man in a brawl. Three years later he was in Naples, where he painted The Seven Acts of Mercy. A year later he died at the age of thirty-eight under mysterious circumstances. Exploring Caravaggio’s singular masterwork, in The Guardian of Mercy Terence Ward offers an incredible narrative journey into the heart of his artistry and his metamorphosis from fugitive to visionary.

Ward’s guide in this journey is a contemporary artist whose own life was transformed by the painting, a simple man named Angelo who shows him where it still hangs in a small church in Naples and whose story helps him see its many layers. As Ward unfolds the structure of the painting, he explains each of the seven mercies and its influence on Caravaggio’s troubled existence. Caravaggio encountered the whole range of Naples’s vertical social layers, from the lowest ranks of poverty to lofty gilded aristocratic circles, and Ward reveals the old city behind today’s metropolis. Fusing elements of history, biography, memoir, travelogue, and journalism, his narrative maps the movement from estrangement to grace, as we witness Caravaggio’s bruised life was gradually redeemed by art.

Museum Reads Notes:
Be sure to register to receive email updates and Zoom links.
For last minute registrations, please call the front desk for the Zoom link at 401-848-8200.

About the Author

Terence Ward is a writer, documentary producer, and cross-cultural consultant on the Middle East. For 25 years, he has advised companies, foundations and governments.  Born in Boulder, Colorado, he grew up in Saudi Arabia and Iran. He received his BA in political science at the University of California at Berkeley. Continuing his studies in Egypt at the American University of Cairo, he specialized in Near Eastern history and contemporary Islamic political movements. Later, he received his MBA from the International Management Institute (IMI) in Geneva.

In Athens, Greece, he joined Middle East Industrial Relations Counselors (MEIRC). For ten years, he advised clients across the Gulf—Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia—conducting consulting projects and management seminars designed for Western and Japanese managers to help them adapt to the complex cultural, historic, and religious issues of the region. In New York, he has worked for Hay Management Consultants and Inter-Change Consultants, specializing in training managers in cultural competencies for the global arena.

He received the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) in Geneva, and then served with the UN Mission to East Timor during the referendum for independence in 1999. Later, he served with the Burma Project (Open Society Foundations) on a mission to Myanmar. He has also lectured on conflict zones of the Moluccas, East Timor, and Iran for IDHA programs in both Geneva and New York.

He has been interviewed on BBC, CNN, NBC, NPR, PBS, C-SPAN, and RAI-TV. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, CNN, The Ecologist (Italian), Il Manifesto, Airone, Reset, and Conde Nast Traveler. His views on the Sunni-Shiite conflict have been cited in The New York Times. The Trilateral Commission and the Global Policy Council of AT Kearney invited his contributions for position papers on the Middle East.

In film, he produced the award-winning documentary “Black Africa White Marble” inspired by the humanist Italian explorer, Pietro Savorgnan di Brazza after whom the capital Brazzaville of the Republic of Congo is named. It won the Grand Prix at the Festival of Annecy (2012), Audience Award at Cambridge Film Festival (2013), and Best Documentary at Berlin Independent Film Festival (2014). He also produced the feature “Archaeology of a Woman”, (2014) starring Academy Award nominee Sally Kirkland. His documentary “Talk Radio Tehran” (2016) by Mahtab Mansour follows courageous Iranian women who fulfill their aspirations in spite of gender-apartheid. It won Best Short Film at the Middle East Now Festival in Florence and aired on BBC for the International Day of the Woman (2018).

Terence serves as an ambassador of Religion for Peace of World Conference of Religions for Peace—the largest interfaith organization in the world. He is a member of PEN International and ISMEO (Associazione Internazionale di Studi sul Mediterraneo e l’Oriente) the prestigious Middle Eastern institute based in Rome and on the advisory board of The Markaz Review (formerly the Levantine Center) in Los Angeles which embraces all Middle Eastern cultures. With his wife, Idanna Pucci, he lives in Florence, Italy and New York.

This program is made possible by your support of the Annual Fund.