Caravaggio arrived in Rome in 1592. At the age of 21, he did not get a major employment in the great artistic projects for Lateran and St. Peter and sought to attract customers through two modelli, the boy peeling a fruit and the boy bitten by a lizard.
An oil on canvas 65 x 53 cm of the peeling boy is estimated $ 3M for sale by Christie's in New York on January 28, lot 16.
The boy is viewed half length in front of a table on which some fruit are dispositioned. He is focused on his occupation of peeling an orange, in a sharp light coming in contrast to the almost uniformly black background.
This theme is clever because it could allow the artist to offer to his customers the Five Senses and The Four Seasons. The lizard on the other modello is an opening to the curiosity cabinets that were very fashionable during the reign of Rudolf II. The portraits of these two modelli offer the total opposition of the realistic portrayal of the peeling boy and the feeling of intense pain of the bitten boy.