Caravaggio (1571-1610) Italy

The painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio founded a school of realism characterized by no particular known style, but based on the dramatic arrangements in chiaroscuro in which he emphasized the relationship between light and dark. Through his use of lighting and shading, Caravaggio succeeds in creating the rounded three-dimensional shapes with an illusory effect that came to characterize Baroque painting.

Caravaggio detested the traditional idealized interpretation of religious subjects, and he therefore took his models from the streets and painted them realistically.

Caravaggio lived a violent life. His family died of the plague when he was 11 years old, in 1606 he murdered a man during a riot in Rome, after which he became a fugitive. He died of malaria in 1610.

Without ever having instructed any pupils, Caravaggio nevertheless gained followers who came to be known as Caravaggisti, the foremost of whom included Georges de La Tour, Orazio Gentileschi, Artemisia Gentileschi, José de Ribera, Hendrick Terbrugghen, Gerrit van Honthorst and Dirck van Baburen.

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