Caravaggio (1571-1610) – real name Michelangelo Merisi – is an artist of the Baroque period whose groundbreaking use of dramatic lighting in his paintings is often credited as the forerunner to theatrical, photographic and cinematic lighting.
Caravaggio is a controversial figure – a tortured genius who arrived in Rome at the age of 21, having lost half his family to plague, but with enough inheritance to launch himself as a painter.
His painting of the human form was so remarkable it was rumoured he used corpses as models, as well as prostitutes – even to portray holy figures such as the Virgin Mary. He eventually had to flee Rome after numerous run-ins with the local police for brawling and eventually killing a man in a fight during a tennis match.
Caravaggio fled to Naples and then Malta, where he was given a commission by the Knights of Malta – he had to leave again after offending the Knights, possibly over rumours of sexual activity with a partner who was underage.
He died of fever in 1610, while looking for his boat and belongings on the beach, having sailed back to Naples hoping for a pardon for his misdeeds. He was arrested and released again on his arrival, but never made it back to Rome.
In April, Rome Opera Omnia will be performing in English a guided tour Sounds and Visions of Caravaggio – taking in Palazzo Doria Pamphilj for an evening of Baroque Music set against the backdrop of paintings by Caravaggio, Tiziano, Raphael, Bernini and Velàzquez.
A chance to see the work of Caravaggio and hear the music of the era, right in the heart of Rome.
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Shortlisted for the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’s Centenary Award.
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For more about Caravaggio and a portrait of the artist himself, see the website of the National Gallery in London.
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