Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da (1571-1610) by Scholes, Robert

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571 – 1610) He is perhaps the most famous Italian painter of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, known especially for his effects of light and deep shadow. Caravaggio was the son of Fermo Merisi, steward and architect of the Marquis of Caravaggio. Orphaned at age 11, Caravaggio was apprenticed in the same year to the painter Simone Peterzano of Milan. At some time between 1588 and 1592, Caravaggio went to Rome. He earned his living for the most part with hackwork and never stayed more than a few months at any studio. Finally, probably in 1595, he decided to set out on his own and began to sell his pictures through a dealer, a certain Maestro Valentino, who brought Caravaggio’s work to the attention of Cardinal Francesco del Monte, a prelate of great influence in the papal court. Caravaggio soon came under the protection of Del Monte and was invited to receive board, lodging, and a pension in the house of the cardinal. He is usually credited with bringing a new realism to painting, which was dominated by mannerism when he began, and his rather wild life is often object of interest. He painted a lot of beautiful boys, and brought a realistic intensity to religious subject matter. His influence on later painters was enormous.

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