Caravaggio Press Kit - Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Last Update: 19 August 2002
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Michaelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, born in 1571 the son of a mason, is now considered to be the last great artist of the Italian Renaissance. He was taught by a minor Milanese painter, Peterzano, and when he was about nineteen made for Rome. Assistant to the artist Cavaliere Cesare d’Arpino, his first patron was the Cardinal del Monte who employed him to paint genre pieces like “The Lute Player”, and later won him the commission for his first large public religious paintings.

Pioneer of a painting style using theatrical light, known as chiaroscuro, his style influenced artists as far afield as Rubens, Rembrandt and Velasquez. In 1606 he murdered a friend in a knife-fight and fled to Naples and Malta. He eventually settled in Naples and powerful friends, having obtained a pardon for the murder he had committed, made plans for him to return to Rome. However, the boat left without him as he was arrested, mistaken for a bandit. Destitute and despairing, he ran along the beach at Porto Ercole after his belongings which had sailed in the boat while he was in jail. He collapsed and died of a raging fever, brought on by heat and hunger, in 1610, when he was forty.

Paintings referred to and/or re-created in the film:

  • BOY WITH A BASKET OF FRUIT, Galleria Borghese
  • THE SICK BACCHUS, Galleria Borghese
  • THE LUTE PLAYER, Hermitage, Leningrad
  • CONCERT OF YOUTHS, Metropolitan Museum, New York
  • THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. MATTHEW, Contarelli Chapel, S. Luigi dei Francesi
  • THE REPENTANT MAGDALEN, Galleria Doria-Pamphilj
  • DEATH OF THE VIRGIN, Louvre, Paris
  • THE DEPOSITION, Vatican Museum
  • HEAD OF MEDUSA, Uffizi, Florence
  • NARCISSUS (attributed), Galleria Corsini
  • ST. JEROME IN HIS STUDY, Galleria Borghese
  • PROFANE LOVE, Berlin, Staatliche Museum
  • DOUBTING THOMAS, Potsdam, Staatliche Schlosser und Garten


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