Caravaggio 1573 - 1610

Detail showing portrait of Caravaggio from Pietro Bellori, 'Le vite de pittori', 1728 edition (Sir Denis Mahon collection)

Engraved portrait of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610).

Taken from 'Vite dei Pittori, Scultori ed Architetti Moderni. Descritte da Gio' by Pietro Bellori (1613-1696), 1728.
Sir Denis Mahon Library and Archive, NGI


Named after the small town of Caravaggio, near Milan, Michelangelo Merisi is regarded today as the world’s leading exponent of chiaroscuro. Receiving his art apprenticeship in nearby Bergamo, he then moved to Rome and worked in the studio of Cavaliere d’Arpino.  Religious art commissions followed under the patronage of Cardinals, notably his spectacular Martyrdom of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul for the church of Santa Maria del Popolo in 1601. Caravaggio gained notoriety in 1604 when after a tennis match he stabbed his opponent. Wanted by the authorities, Caravaggio fled first to Naples, and then Malta in 1607. His career on the island came to an abrupt end after he assaulted a Judiciary, where after he was imprisoned, escaped and then fled to Sicily in 1608. He died at Porto d’Ercole two years later.