From stock painter for Roman Mannerist Guiseppe Cesari at the turn of the 17th century to his first commission in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, we cover the life, works, and escapades of Caravaggio when in Rome. Understand his considerable influence as a Baroque artist and the concept of Tenebrism.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was tutored by Simone Peterzano in Milan, who himself was one of Titian's protgs in Venice. Caravaggio's style of portraying common people in every day situations with "dramatic chiaroscuro", where a shaft of divine light illuminates the main subject from an unclear origin to leave the rest of the scene in obscurity, sets his work apart from his peers.
Between 1596-1604, Caravaggio was perhaps the most famous painter in Rome. Prolific, too, in light of the fact that he was handed many commissions. Praised by Cardinal and benefactor Francesco Maria Del Monte, whose residence was Palazzo Madama (the seat of the Italian Senate today), Caravaggio's life in Counter-Reformation Rome was centred around Piazza San Luigi dei Francesi until he moved into the palace to work. His newest creations were often inaugurated in churches, some of which have not been moved since their unveiling on hallowed ground over 400 years ago. The way in which Caravaggio portrayed gamblers, peasants, prostitutes, and the darker side of street life - in which he had his own fateful part to play - provoked outrage, so much so that he was forgotten in death until the turn of the 19th century. It is believed that Caravaggio prowled the streets around Piazza Navona dressed head to toe in black with a black dog by his side. Despite his reputation as a hell-raising rabble rouser, Del Monte's contacts and influence thrust Caravaggio into the spotlight. The powerful Cardinal Scipione Borghese, patron of Bernini, became an avid collector of his work.
This tour coversCaravaggio's finest paintings, the places where he lived and worked, where he drank, and where it is believed he killed. We visit the Capitoline Museums' Pinacoteca to see "St. John the Baptist" (1602), Doria Pamphili Gallery to see "Penitent Magdalene" (1594) and "Rest on the Flight into Egypt" (1597), then the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi (serialization of the life of St. Matthew adorning the Contarelli chapel, 1600) between the Pantheonand Piazza Navona. Caravaggio was a great influence on Peter Paul Rubens who was in Rome at the same time, and Rembrandt, who practiced a particularly theatrical form of "chiaroscuro".
Your skip-the-line ticket for theBorghese Gallery and Museum (self-guided) will introduce you to Caravaggio's"Boy with Basket of Fruit" (1594), "Young Sick Bacchus" (1593), "Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri)" (1606), and "David with the Head of Goliath" (1610).
"In painting not equal to a painter, but to Nature itself". (Marzio Milesi, August 15th, 1610)