Artist: Caravaggio
Born: 29 September 1571, Milan, Italy
Nationality: Italian
Movement: Baroque
Died: 18 July 1610, Porto Ercole, Italy

Boy Bitten by a Lizard, 1594/5, oil on canvas. Currently housed in the collection of the Nation Gallery, London, UK

Caravaggio was a Baroque artist and painter. Born Michelangelo Merisi in Caravaggio he was always known by the name of his hometown. In 1584 Caravaggio was apprenticed to Simone Peterzano for four years. Peterzano was an artist working in Milan. Caravaggio moved to Rome in the 1590s. He specialized in still life and later in half-length figures. An early patron was the Cardinal del Monte, a leading art connoisseur of the time.

The Young Sick Bacchus, 1593, oil on canvas. Currently located in the Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy.

In 1599, through the Cardinal Caravaggio obtained the commission to decorate Contarelli Chapel with scenes from the life of St Matthew. These paintings were his first public work and caused a sensation with their realism and dramatic contrasts of light and shade. However, they secured Caravaggio with prestigious commissions, many of them religious works.

Salome Receives the Head of John the Baptist, 1609/10, oil on canvas. Currently housed by the National Gallery, London UK

Caravaggio lived a tumultuous life, frequently getting involved in brawls. In 1606, during a game of racquets he quarrelled with his opponent and stabbed him to death. He was forced to flee Rome, and settled in Naples before travelling to Malta, Sicily and Southern Italy. His paintings from this time are often dark and melancholic. In 1609, he was involved in another brawl in Naples and was severely wounded. He was pardoned of the murder committed in Rome in 1610 and died of a fever in the July of that year. He is buried in Porto Ercole.

©JG Farmer 2019

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