During his career, Caravaggio quickly made a name for himself, receiving high-profile commissions both religious and secular one of which is The Tooth Puller.
His unique style combined unidealized human figures and innovative use of highly contrasted light and dark spaces, known as tenebrism. These elements are both present in 1608’s The Tooth Puller – not only is the patient caught in an unflattering position that reinforces the pain he’s feeling, but the dentist’s concentration is also visible in his brow and clenched jaw, and the imperfections in the onlookers’ skin and the dirt on their clothes give them a very ordinary appearance.
The background is entirely obscured by darkness, typical of Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio, and there is a single light source emanating from the left side of the image which casts dramatic shadows and highlights across the figures.
Caravaggio’s The Tooth Puller can be found in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.