Caravaggio: Sick Bacchus, c.1593.
Caravaggio, Sick Bacchus, c.1593,
Borghese Gallery, Rome.

  • Biography:
         Michelangelo Merisi was born in Caravaggio. He lost his parents soon, and this is why he went to Milan. He suffered a lot of problems, but he knew how to progress inside picture world. By 1589-1590 he went to Rome and had to suffer strong calamitys, but in 1594 met Cavalier d´Arpino and started working in his important studio specialized in still life picture. Caravaggio´s life started to be much better. He stayed for 8 months with Cavalier d´Arpino, later he set his own studio. He continued with small profane picture which was sold thanks to a dealer who had a shop near San Luigi dei Francesi. The dealer brought Caravaggio to the attention of cardinal Franceso del Monte, he saw Caravaggio´s pictures and surprised immediataly. Francesco del Monte became his protector and this meant a huge change in Caravaggio´s carreer. Between 1595 and 1596 Caravaggio went to live with the cardinal in Madama Palace. From now Caravaggio will be commissioned to paint for San Luigi dei Francesi. He was only 24 years old.
         Bad luck appeared soon. Other jealous painters began to attack Caravaggio. This point and the bad character of our painter envolved him in problems with justice. A crime made him to leave Rome and went to Genova. Later, Caravaggio came back Rome with support from his protectors, but he was exiled because of a new crime. From then, he had a wandering life, among different places of the italian geography: Naples, Malta, Sicily, Mesina, Palermo... . In 1610 Cavavaggio died in Porto Ercole, he was 37 years old.
  • A new picture language. Tenebrism:
    Cavaggio: The calling of Saint Matthew, (detail), 1599-1600.     Tenebrism was iniciated by Caravaggio in Italy. He, rebellious spirit, wanted an original style far of the orthodox conventions. Caravaggio is a life observer and he wants to represent reality in his pictures in a loyal way. He uses a focal light in order to bring his painted figures a great plasticity. While everything stays in shadows and semi-darkness, small touches of light resalt the most important and eloquent parts of the picture. This process has been called "cellar light". It had a huge influence among baroque picture.
         Lights and shadows enviroments envolve very realistic scenes. Caravaggio likes painting the most realistic aspects of reality. This is why we are able to feel cruelty seeing his pictures. This way of painting was not well accepted, society was not prepared to admit that revolution. Until then, only idealization was shown by artists. Painting biblical characters in a no majestic way was inconceivable. Caravaggio chose a woman drowned in the Tiber with her swollen face and stomach like model of Maria, in The Death of the Virgen. It was considered like jeer to the Christianity.
         The tenebrism is a pictorial contribution of universal transcendency. It sometimes influences completely, or only partly of the pictorial production of authors like, Guido Reni, Guercino, Domenichino, Rembrandt, Zurbarán, Murillo or Velázquez.

  • Caravaggio´s pictures: Click the picture to enlarge
    Caravaggio: The calling of Saint Matthew, 1599-1600. Caravaggio, The calling of Saint Matthew, 1599-1600, oil on canvas, Contarelli chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome.
    With comments
    Caravaggio: The Fortune Teller, 1594-1595. Caravaggio, The Fortune Teller, 1594-1595, oil on canvas, 99 x 131 cm, Louvre, París.
    Caravaggio: Bacchus, c.1597. Caravaggio, Bacchus, c.1597, oil on canvas, 95 x 85 cm, Uffizi, Florence.
    Caravaggio: Judith beheading Holofernes, c.1598. Caravaggio, Judith beheading Holofernes, c.1598, oil on canvas, 145 x 195 cm, Galleria Nazionale dell´Arte Antica, Rome.
    Caravaggio: The martyrdom of Saint Matthew, 1599-1600. Caravaggio, The martyrdom of Saint Matthew, 1599-1600, oil on canvas, 323 x 343 cm, Contarelli chapel, church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome.
    Caravaggio: The Crufixion of Saint Peter, 1600-1601. Caravaggio, The Crufixion of Saint Peter, 1600-1601, oil on canvas, 230 x 175 cm, Cesari chapel, Sta.Maria del Popola, Rome.
    Caravaggio: The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, 1602. Caravaggio, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, 1602, oil on canvas, Contarelli chapel, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome.
    Caravaggio: The Deposition, 1604. Caravaggio, The Deposition, 1604, oil on canvas, 300 x 203 cm, Vatican gallery, Rome.
    Caravaggio: The Death of the Virgen, 1605-1606. Caravaggio, The Death of the Virgen, 1605-1606, oil on canvas, 369 x 245 cm, Louvre, Paris.
    Caravaggio: Medusa, after 1590. Caravaggio, Medusa, after 1590, oil on canvas mounted on wood, Uffizi.
    Caravaggio: The grooms´ Virgen, 1606. Caravaggio, The grooms´ Virgen, 1606, oil on canvas, 292 x 211 cm, Borghese gallery, Rome.

    Written by:
    Beatriz Aragonés Escobar.
    Licentiate in Art History.

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