In April 1604, the Italian painter Caravaggio, believing that he had been slighted, threw a platter of artichokes at the head of waiter in a Roman tavern. This essay examines this curious episode through the lens art history, food history, and of social mores in seventeenth-century Rome, considering the history of the artichoke, Caravaggio's polemical naturalism, and contemporary attitudes to his art and behavior.

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