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  • Known as: Italian artist
  • Born: 29 September 1571, Caravaggio, near Milan, Italy
  • Birthname: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
  • Date of death: 18 July 1610, Porto Ercole, near Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy (fever)

    So called from the Bergamasque town near Milan, when Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was 13, he was apprenticed for four years to a Bergamasque working in Milan, Simone Peterzano. When his apprenticeship came to an end, he may have gone to Rome though there is also evidence that he may have been in Venice (like so many artists of this era and before, hard evidence is hard to come by). At some point, Caravaggio arrived in Rome and worked for the Cavaliere d'Arpino.

    In the 1590 he worked for Cardinal del Monte and in 1599 he obtained the commission to decorate the French chapel in Rome, the Contarelli Chapel in S. Luigi dei Francesi. The original altarpiece was rejected due to supposed indecorum and had to undergo radical repainting.

    Between 1600-01, he painted the Martydom of St Peter and the Conversion of St Paul for the Cerasi Chapel in Sta Maria del Popolo. Again, it is probale that these were rejected. Other altarpieces he did were heavily criticized on the grounds of indecorum due to his harsh realism. Indeed, much of his work was attacked though any rejected work found a ready buyer among cardinals and noblemen.

    Caravaggio's famed reputation for his, er, love of a fight, was first documented in 1603 when Baglione brought a libel action against him. He soon became notorious for his numerous fracas with the police. His violent temper brought his career in Rome to an end in 1606 when during a game of racquet he argued with an opponent and stabbed him. He fled, ending up in Naples and working there for a time; then he went to Malta and was received by the Grand Master of the Order of St John. He was made a Knight of Grace which was the lowest grade and his temple soon got the better of him for he assaulted a Knight Justiciary (the highest grade) and was imprisoned. In 1608, he escaped and fled to Sicily and was, unsurprisingly, expelled from the Order.

    He may have worked for the Order of Messina next but what is definate is that the following year he was back in Naples, and was seriously wounded in a fight in a tavern. He left Naples by sea for Port'Ercole. Once there, he was imprisoned by mistake; when he was released he discovered the felucca which he thought had all his goods on board had sailed. His frantic efforts to overhaul the felucca brought on a fever, and a few days later he died in a tavern.

    The goods, in fact, were in the customs house in the port.


  • Caravaggio's only signed work was the Decollation of the Baptist, commissioned when he was in Malta.
  • Rubens was an admirer of his.
  • His piece, the Nativity in the Oratory of S. Lorenzo, was stolen in 1969, and has still not been recovered.
  • Between 1600-06, he was the most famous painter in Rome.
  • The young man he killed was Ranuccio Tomassoni.


  • Berlin
  • Cleveland Ohio
  • Cremona
  • Dublin (NG)
  • Escorial
  • Florence (Uffizi, Pitti)
  • Hartford Conn.
  • Kansas City
  • London (National Gallery)
  • Madrid (Prado)
  • Messina
  • Milan (Brera, Ambrosiana)
  • Naples (S. Domenico Maggiore, Misericordia)
  • Nancy
  • New York (Met. Mus.)
  • Paris (Louvre)
  • Rome (Gall. Naz., Borghese, Capitoline, Corsini, Doria Galls., churches)
  • Rouen
  • St. Petersburg
  • Valletta, Malta
  • Vatican
  • Vienna

    Gallery :: Notes

    Caravaggio, or more accurately Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Milan 1571 - Porto Ercole 1610), was a legend even in his own lifetime. Celebrated by some for his naturalism and his revolutionary pictorial inventions, he was considered by others to have destroyed painting. Few other artists have attracted such controversial and contradictory interpretations right up to modern times and to the latest art historical research.

    Source: Caravaggio: The Complete Paintings [Hardcover] Book available @

    Below is a taster of what the above words actually mean. A little visual journey beyond words. Get inside the mind of a genius, look around awhile, and see what was once achieved on this mortal coil.

    Gallery :: Paintings

    caravaggio / the fortune teller caravaggio / a young boy peeling an apple caravaggio / bacchus, c.1597 caravaggio / basket with fruit, circa 1596 caravaggio / boy bitten by a lizard caravaggio / boy with basket of fruit caravaggio / calvary
    caravaggio / conversion on the way to damascus caravaggio / crucifixion of saint peter caravaggio / david victorious over goliath, circa 1600 caravaggio / david with goliath's head caravaggio / david with the head of goliath, 1606 caravaggio / deposition, 1602-4 caravaggio / flagellation, 1607
    caravaggio / fortune teller caravaggio / judith and holofernes, 1599 caravaggio / lute player caravaggio / madonna and child with a serpent, 1605 caravaggio / medusa, painted on a leather jousting shield, circa 1596-98 caravaggio / narcissus, circa 1597-99 caravaggio / portrait of a knight of malta, possibly fra antonio martelli, 1607-08
    caravaggio / portrait of alof de wignacourt, grand master of the order of malta from 1601-22 caravaggio / rest on the flight into egypt, circa 1603 caravaggio / saint francis in meditation caravaggio / saint jerome caravaggio / salome receives the head of saint john the baptist, 1607-10 caravaggio / samson and delilah caravaggio / sleeping cupid, 1608
    caravaggio / st. jerome writing, circa 1604 (Detail) caravaggio / st. john the baptist, circa 1598-99 caravaggio / st. matthew and the angel, 1602 caravaggio / st. matthew's vocation caravaggio / supper at emmaus, 1606 caravaggio / the conversion of saint paul caravaggio / the death of the virgin, 1605-06
    caravaggio / the death of the virgin caravaggio / the decapitation of st. john the baptist, 1608 (detail) caravaggio / the decapitation of st. john the baptist, 1608 caravaggio / the flagellation of christ, circa 1605-7 caravaggio / the gamblers caravaggio / the lute player caravaggio / the martyrdom of st. matthew, 1599-1600
    caravaggio / the musicians caravaggio / the penitent mary magdalene, 1596-97 caravaggio / the seven works of mercy, 1607 caravaggio / the sick bacchus, 1591 caravaggio / the supper at emmaus, 1601 caravaggio / the supper at emmaus, circa 1614-21

    Canvas Prints

    canvas print
    Rest On The Flight To Egypt Large Canvas Print

    canvas print
    Sacrificing Isaak Large Canvas Print

    canvas print
    Salome Receives The Head Large Canvas Print

    canvas print
    Self-Portrait as Bacchus Large Canvas Print

    canvas print
    The Supper at Emmaus Large Canvas Print

    canvas print
    Young Man With Fruit Basket Large Canvas Print


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