Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) was a famous Italian painter of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. He was active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily between 1593 and 1610. He is usually considered a Baroque artist and had an important influence on the formation of Baroque.
In 1576, Caravaggio and his family moved to the town of Caravaggio to escape the plague that was ravaging Milan. Caravaggio's father died there in the following year. It is speculated that Caravaggio may have grown to adulthood in the town of Caravaggio while spending his childhood in Milan. In Milan, the Caravaggio family had been involved not only with the Sforzas but also with the prominent Colonna family, who were related by marriage to the Sforzas and played an important role in Caravaggio's later life.
Beginning of painting
In 1584, Caravaggio began a four-year apprenticeship with the Milanese painter Simon Peterzano. During his apprenticeship, Caravaggio appears to have been in Milan and the town of Caravaggio, but he may have also been to Venice and saw the work of Titian and Giorgione, whom he was later accused of imitating. Indeed, he was familiar with the artistic treasures of Milan, including Da Vinci's The Last Supper, and the local Lombard art.
In mid-1592, Caravaggio arrived in Rome ill-clothed, desperately poor, without shelter, food, clothing, or a penny. Caravaggio's best-known works from this period include Boy Peeling Fruit, Boy with a Basket of Fruit, The Sick Bacchus, and a self-portrait he painted while recovering from a serious illness. All three works show the realist side of Caravaggio, from which he became famous.
Caravaggio, a madman, born in a chaotic world, was not afraid of the secular. His religious paintings are full of flesh, subversively integrating naturalism into them, influencing a large number of painters in later generations. In the era of religious supremacy, Caravaggio's paintings did not look like distant myths but actual occurrences. He dragged God into the mortal world.
Caravaggio lived at the height of the Renaissance and was initially known not for his paintings but his fiery temper. Carrying a sword, he wandered the streets and became a frequent visitor to the police station with many criminal records. His dramatic and realistic approach to the world of civilian life was interpreted as disrespectful to religion and caused an uproar. The church refused to accept his paintings, and he had to repaint them again and again. Some collectors loved to buy his paintings, making Caravaggio one of the most controversial figures in Rome.
Invention of Baroque
Caravaggio created the chiaroscuro technique, which deepened the darker parts of the painting and pierced the subject with a blinding light. The resulting observation of physical and psychological truth is the reason for his great popularity and the reason why he often fails to meet the requirements of religious commissions. Caravaggio painted with great speed, looking at the model and marking the canvas directly with the handle of his brush. In his time, some painters abhorred this method and condemned him for refusing to make a draft and not beautify his figures. The model was the basis of Caravaggio's realism, and Caravaggio had an attention-grabbing talent for bringing to life the passage of important events in a very lively scene.
Exile and death
In 1606, he killed a young man named Ranuccio Tommasoni and was forced to flee to Naples, which was outside the jurisdiction of the Roman authorities, under the threat of the death penalty for murder. Under the protection of the Colonna family, the most famous painter in Rome also became the most prestigious painter in Naples. Despite his success in Naples, Caravaggio left after only a few months for Malta. During his time in Malta, Caravaggio's style continued to mature, and his major works include the massive Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.
In late August 1608, he was arrested and imprisoned, and expelled from the Order as "an abominable and degenerate member of the Order. In 1609, in Naples, a group of men of unknown origin attacked him and seriously wounded his face. He painted David with the Head of Goliath, in which the young David looks with strange sadness at the wounded head of the giant, which is the head of Caravaggio. This painting was commissioned by Cardinal Borghese, an avid art lover who held the power of pardon.
In the summer of 1610, Caravaggio sailed north to receive a pardon, which seems to have been attributed to his powerful Roman friends. Caravaggio died of a fever on his way to Rome from Naples, and although the cause of his death has not been determined, recent research suggests that he died of sepsis caused by injuries sustained in Naples.
Although Caravaggio was famous during his lifetime, he was completely forgotten for centuries after his death, only to be rediscovered in the recent decades of the 20th century. Although he influenced almost all styles of art after the demise of Mannerism, his influence on the emerging Baroque art was truly profound.