Essay on Biography of Caravaggio (Michelangelo)

CABAVAGGIO, ka’ra-va’jo, properly MichelAngelo Merisi or Mebisio (improperly Amerioi, Merioi, or. Mobigt) Da (c. 1565-1609). An eminent Italian painter, founder of the Naturalistic school. He is usually called after his birthplace Caravaggio, in the Province of Bergamo, where his father was master of the household and architect to the Marquis of Caravaggio. According to most recent research, he probably studied four or five years at Milan, perhaps with one of the Campi (q.v.), then passed some time in Venice. About 1585-87 he appeared in Rome, where he was for a time associated with Cesare d’ Arpino and Prospero Orsi, but he persisted in going his own way. After much vicissitude he found a patron in Cardinal del Monte, which insured Mb success.

His talent developed with great rapidity. Throwing all traditions aside, and appealing only to nature, he became the head of the Naturalists, in opposition to the Mannerists. He became very popular, and even the Eclecticista imitated him. But the animosities which he excited and his own passionate disposition involved him in constant quarrels, although ho. certainly did not provoke all the quarrels attributed to him. Thus he is said to have challenged Guido Reni, who imitated his work, to a duel, and to have chased the Inoffensive Guercino from Rome. It is true, however, that he killed a comrade in a quarrel over a game, and had to leave Rome for this offense. He was protected and concealed near Palestrina by Duke Marzio Colonna. He painted for that nobleman until he went to Naples. In this city he foundan appreciative public, and from his activity there arose a Naturalistic school of great importance. He afterward went to Malta, where he painted two portraits of the Grand Master of th…

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… London has a characteristic example in “Christ and the Apostles at Emmaus.” Caravaggio also painted a few portraits of great realism and force. Of his portraits of himself, the youthful specimen in the Uffizi (Florence) is noted, but his finest piece of portraiture is probably the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, in the Louvre.

Although he had no direct pupils, Caravaggio was of the greatest influence upon the development of modern art. Even the principal pupils of the Carracci, like Guido Reni and Guercino (q.v.), studied his art, and Domenichino (q.v.) was influenced by it. He may be justly considered the founder and head of the Naturalistic school (see Painting), and as the advocate of the return -to nature, his influence extended beyond Italy into the North, where he influenced Rubens and was the forerunner of the great Dutch masters of light and shade.


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