Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) was an Italian painter who is best known for his dramatic use of lighting. His mastering of "Chiaroscuro", a technique of using strong contrasts between light and dark to achieve volume, made the style distinctive among his works. Caravaggio had a quarrelsome nature, which caused his some trouble in his life. His paintings were frequently of religious themes, along with numerous still lives and portraits. Our pattern set contains most of his most notable wor

Patterns Included In This Set:

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The Crucifxion of Saint Peter

Boy with a Basket Fruit

Basket of Fruit

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The Cardsharks

The Calling of Saint Matthew

Death of a Virgin

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Amor Vincit Omnia

Alof de Wignacourt and his Page

The Raising of Lazarus

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The Denial of Saint Peter

The Taking of Christ

Supper at Emmaus

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Judith Beheading Holofernes

The Entombment of Christ

Sick Bacchus

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The Sacrifice of Isaac

Burial of St. Lucy

The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

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Christ at the Column

David

Bacchus

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Lute Player

St. John the Baptist

St. Jerome

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Medusa

The Inspiration of Saint Matthew

The Fortune Teller

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St. Catherine of Alexandria

Penitent Magdalene

St. John the Baptist

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Boy Peeling a Fruit

Sleeping Cupid

Portrait of Maffeo Barberini

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Boy Bitten by a Lizard

St. Jerome

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) was an Italian baroque painter whose emotional compositions and dramatic use of light and shade, known as chiaroscuro, were to have a profound influence on European art.

Caravaggio’s short life is a story of intense contrasts, like the deep shadows and bright light of his paintings, for although he was one of the most profoundly spiritual painters of the Western world, his personal life was wild, dissipated and violent. His passionate and uncontrollable personality led him to commit murder and subsequently go into hiding to escape punishment. Yet his religious paintings exude a profound and sacred quality that show no traces of the artist’s aggressive personality.

Michelangelo Merisi was born in the village of Caravaggio near Milan. As was customary in those days, when he became a professional painter he took the name of his place of birth and became known as Michelangelo Caravaggio. His father was an architect and majordomo in the household of the Marquis of Caravaggio. The young Caravaggio was a talented boy and began studying painting at the age of 13 as an apprentice in a Milan art studio specializing in still life paintings.

In 1592, when he was 21 years old, Caravaggio decided to try his luck in Rome. He started out at the studio of Mannerist painter Giuseppe Cesari where he produced fruit and flower paintings. None of these have survived. Tiring quickly of this type of work, Caravaggio decided to go it alone. But he was openly critical of his peers and frequently boasted that he could do better. His personality quickly made him enemies and his naturalistic style was in sharp contrast to the Mannerist style prevalent at the time. Patrons were not lining up at his doorstep and no commissions came his way. During this period he was painting mainly adolescent boys, taking his models from the decaying neighborhood in which he lived. His personal life and circumstances were dreadfully unstable and he suffered great deprivation. Nevertheless, he painted some 40 works during that period, such as The Music Party and Boy with a Fruit Basket. But in 1595 Caravaggio’s luck changed. His paintings became noticed by Cardinal Francesco Del Monte, who took him under his wing and became his first patron. Del Monte gave Caravaggio room and board in his house as well as a generous salary.

In 1600 Caravaggio received his first public commission to produce a series of paintings for the Contarelli Chapel in Rome. The three scenes from the life of Saint Matthew created a sensation on the Rome art scene. The paintings were such a success that commissions began to pour in. Yet just when everything was going so well, Caravaggio’s turbulent personality got the better of him. He got into arguments and fights with fellow artists, was arrested for throwing stones at the Roman Guards and even wounded a man with firearms. In 1606 this series of incidents culminated in murder. During a violent brawl over a bet on a tennis game, Caravaggio killed a man.

Caravaggio was forced to flee for his life, penniless and friendless. Faced with adversity and lacking patrons and protection, it was during this period that Caravaggio would produce his greatest masterpieces. Caravaggio first went into hiding in Naples where he stayed for several months and painted the Flagellation of Christ. But it was not long before he got into another fight and committed murder once again. Caravaggio was forced to flee, this time to Malta where he was made a knight and painted the Beheading of St. John the Baptist for the cathedral of Valetta. But his wrathful personality once again caught up with him and he was jailed. He managed to escape and fled to Sicily in 1608 where he painted several dramatic, multi-figured religious compositions, including the Raising of Lazarus.

During all this time, Caravaggio’s admirers in Rome were interceding on his behalf, for his constant flight could only end with a pardon from the Pope and in 1609 Caravaggio did indeed receive a rumor that he was about to be given a pardon. Overjoyed, he set sail for Naples in July 1610. But bad luck was never far away where Caravaggio was concerned. He got into a fight with a sailor on the ship and disembarked at Porto Ercole, his belongings confiscated by the crew. Wounded, angry and desperate he ran up and down the beach until he was gripped by fever. He collapsed on the beach and died there alone. Three days after his death, the Pope issued him with a pardon.

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