Biography of Michelangelo Amerighi Caravaggio (1573-1610)

Italian painter, born in Milan in 1573 and died in Grosseto in 1610. Son of an architect from Milan, formed in the workshop of his father, passing in 1584 to be apprenticed to the painter Peternazo. It is assumed that it took a trip to Venice, before his transfer to Rome, about 1592. The first years of their stay in the city worked in the workshop of Arpino, painting flowers and fruits, and there became friends with painters such as grammar, Orsi and Minniti.

By 1594, the Cardinal Francesco María de el Monte took him under his protection, and exercised severe control on its youth work. For him, he/she made the frescoes in the Cabinet of Alchemy. The Cardinal was very important in theoretical training of Caravaggio; for his collection, he/she made works such as concert, the card players, good fortune, the player of the lute, the Santa Catalina, La Medusa and probably the Baco. Through the mediation of Cardinal, Caravaggio came into contact with the most important Roman families, which began to paint to 1599; He/She made for the portrait of woman and vicious love Giustiniani; for the Barberini, the sacrifice of Isaac; for the Borghese, St. Jerome and David; for the Mattei, the supper at Emmaus.

In 1599 was commissioned the decoration of the chapel dei Francesi. The Cesari in Santa María de el Popolo Chapel frescoes began in 1600, and, later, he/she works as: the descent, the Madonna with the serpent, the Virgin of the dangers and the death of the Virgin.

In 1606 Caravaggio fled Rome, because he/she had killed an opponent in a game of ball. It was first protected by the Colonna, but then moved to Naples, where he/she remained about a year; in Naples, he/she painted several pictures, seven works of mercy, the Virgin of the Rosary and the David. In 1608 he/she moved to Malta, where he/she made for the Cathedral a St. Jerome and the beheading of San Juan Baptist; in the same period is the love asleep, preserved in the Uffizi. Manta also had to leave abruptly for a fight. The stages of his escape are known for works was done by: Siracusa performed the funeral of Santa Lucia, from here went to Messina, where pt La Adoración of the shepherds and the resurrection of Lazarus, from there will go to Palermo, where left an adoration of the shepherds, and finally went to Naples in 1609. Recognized accidentally by the envoys of the Knights of the order of Malta, he/she was assaulted and wounded. His life ended back to Rome, attracted by the papal pardon, when he/she was detained by mistake and released, at Porto École; He/She died in the searing Sun and abandoned beach.

The Caravaggio painting has from the first moment a series of elements that not going to abandon throughout his life, and that can be analyzed in one of his first achievements:

The rest of the flight into Egypt

Simple composition, it presents the novelty of introducing the viewer in the pictorial space. San José is shown as a copying popular type of everyday reality, as well as household objects such as the vessel. The color serves as a complement to the effects of light, using a range of ochre, carmines and white.

In his youth, he/she made a series of portraits of young people, associated to the study of reality, which both concerned. Light served as element to highlight anatomical forms. This type of work gave way later to paint still lifes, for example; the fruit bowls that until now had been secondary themes acquire importance in themselves, the light was also used in these elements as a differentiating value.

The Emmaus dinner

The figuration is available from a theatrical, as for a performance point of view. The figures adopted scenographic attitudes. The gesture determines the dramatic sense. The light falls directly and violently about the figures, whose faces are the study of reality, since they are characteristic of popular characters from the street.

Chapel Contareli

The Contareli Chapel is located in the Church of San Luis of the Franceses of Rome. In it, Caravaggio painted the inspiration of Saint Matthew, the vocation of Saint Matthew and the martyrdom of Saint Matthew. With these works more conservative Church began the clashes of the artist with the sectors.

In the inspiration of Saint Matthew, he/she made a composition in a diagonal, strictly Baroque. The character was conceived as a humble and clumsy, old taken from popular figures. An attempt of withdrawal from the ideal beauty, and approach of the paint layers is lower society.

In La vocation de San Mateo, the style of the artist said, not it adapted to the iconographic tradition, nor to the biblical text, they developed a vision itself and everyday. The scene unfolded in a Roman Tavern: Matthew is located between random players, while a luminous beam side coincides with the arm raised up Christ who manifested a marked theatrical gesture.

In this work the contrasts of light are very strong, highlighting the contrasts that will give way to the tenebrism.

The composition of the martyrdom of St. Matthew is made by two diagonals; It is a theatrical and dramatic composition. The fact is presented in all its drama, highlighted by the werecat form of the child, and the gestures of the terror of the popular characters that deviate from the martyrdom.

Chapel Cesari

The Cesari Chapel, in the Church of Santa María de el Popolo, Caravaggio developed the themes of the Conversion of Saul and the martyrdom of San Pedro.

On the Conversion of Saul, is an anecdotic character in the composition. The horse, together with the arms of Saul, they are the authentic compositive elements. The color is the value that organizes the composition.

In the martyrdom of San Pedro the composition is performed by two diagonals in form of blade; not blinding insight relates as in the previous, but it focuses on the drama of suffering from an old man. It represents ajada Anatomy, and the feeling of the Saint of humiliation and resistance. Caravaggio also transmits the feeling of loneliness, accentuated by the way of the light on the characters.

The Dormition of the Virgin

This painting was a great success. In all the elements are willing to emphasize the dramatic and theatrical character of the composition. The characters are distributed on a diagonal, which has its parallel in the great red curtain at the top of the scene, and that serves to balance.

It used a spot light aimed at identifying the main theme. Introduces a reduction in chromatic, that passes through a range of ochre, you carmines and white.

It has been interpreted as a real academic exercise of representation of popular characters. The Virgin is copied from reality, Caravaggio used the model of a drowned woman. This broke any traditional paint scheme, is not intended to an irreverence, but an approach of the basic themes of the Christian ideology, to the most humble public. His painting was understood by this type of audience, who came en masse to meet her. It also got the attention of the Roman elite.

The emphasis in this picture strongly illuminated areas and areas in absolute darkness will give way to the tenebrism.


It is a very mythological theme in the Renaissance, but going to be reinterpreted by Caravaggio. It represents the vision of a young, unless the wings would have nothing to identify him with the God of Mythology.

There is a direct link with reality, in the representation of the anatomy and any of the details of the picture; In addition, it got capture something inherent in the character of Cupid, the fun and playful appearance of the character.

All this realism makes that Caravaggio mythological themes linking the more immediate, everyday reality. So that, without this vision of Caravaggio on mythology, other painters of the Baroque can hardly be understood.

Still life is an important issue; There is a very precise study of items such as books, musical instruments, etc. The light helps highlight the compositional character of figuration. The neutral background accentuates the contrasts of chiaroscuro.

Caravaggio. The burial of Christ.


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