Carravagio was born in Milan, Italy, in 1571. He led a short, violent and chaotic life and is known to have fathered many illegitimate children. He died at the age of 38 in Spain. The cause of his death has been much speculated, with some historians theorizing that he died of syphilis with others believing he may have been murdered by his enemies from Malta.
In 1599 Caravaggio was commissioned to decorate the San Luigi dei Francesi Church and the Contarelli Chapel. This work brought immediate success and he was in great demand.
The Inspiration of Saint Matthew 1602 is a second version which hangs over the High Altar in the Contarelli Chapel. The first version of the painting was destroyed in Berlin during the World War II.
Caravaggio’s influence was profound and The Caravaggisti were a group of followers emulating his artistic style.
Caravaggio’s religious paintings use teneberism, a use of extreme contrast of light and dark and the chiaroscuro technique which was first fully employed in the 15th century by Leonardo da Vinci.
Caravaggio famous paintings include Saint Jerome Writing c1606. This painting is housed at the Oratory of St. John’s Cathedral in Malta.
Caravaggio’s painting, The Cardsharps 1595 reveals a group playing a Primero card game, which was a forerunner to Poker, it reveals a young card cheat pulling a hidden card from his breaches. The painting is held by the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas who acquired it in 1987. The Bacchus painting by Caravaggio was painted in around 1595. It was commissioned by Cardinal del Monte and it is believed the model for the painting was Caravaggio’s lover, Mario Minniti. Bacchus or Bacco is held by the Uffizi Museum Florence.
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