Caravaggio, Michelangelo(1573-1609) Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, revolutionary naturalist painter, was born in Caravaggio near Milan, the son of a mason. He showed his talent early and at the age of sixteen, after a brief apprenticeship in Milan, was studying with d’Arpino in Rome. During the period 1592-98, Caravaggio’s work was precise in contour, brightly coloured, and sculptural in form. By 1600 when he had completed his first public commission the St. Matthew Paintings for the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, he had established himself as an opponent of both classicism and Mannerism.
Caravaggio chose his models from the common people and set them in ordinary surroundings. His use of chiaroscuro - light as a specific element, a force to create atmosphere, drama, and emotion-was revolutionary. His light is unreal, comes from outside the painting, and creates deep relief and dark shadow.
Caravaggio’s art was not popular with ordinary people who saw in it a lack of reverence. It was highly appreciated by artists of the time and has become recognized through the centuries for its profoundly religious nature as well as for the new techniques that changed all painting after his death.
Caravaggio received many commissions for religious paintings during his short life, but led a wild and bohemian existence and in 1606, after killing a man in a fight, he fled to Naples. Unfortunately, he was soon in trouble again, fled to Malta, and finally, after a series of precipitous adventures died of malaria at the age of thirty-six. His influence, which was first seen in early seventieth century Italian art, spread to France, England, Spain, and the Netherlands.