Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610)
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born in 1571 in Italy in Lombardy. It is still unknown where this outstanding person was born, and the date of his birth but the scientists suggest that he could have been born in Milan, or in a small town of Caravaggio. He was the eldest son in the family. When the epidemic of plague began in 1576, the family of Michelangelo had to move from Milan to Caravaggio. He lived there until 1591. The following date, 1584, interrupted this period. He became a pupil of the Milanese artist Simone Peterzano. After training with this painter unfairly forgotten by all, Michelangelo was to receive the title of artist, but no supporting facts on this subject have survived.
In 1592, the family Caravaggio again experienced another tragedy when their mother died. After this incident, the entire inheritance of the parents was divided among the children. The artist received a good share, which was enough to leave his hometown and move to Rome. According to some reports, he left Milan for a serious reason, and many biographers believe that he killed or seriously injured a man, so he had to move. Michelangelo had a quick temper. Fights and imprisonment became the companions of his life. The first time in the capital of Italy, Caravaggio had difficulty with finding work, but soon he began to work as an apprentice to Giuseppe Cesari, who was considered at that time one of the best artists in Italy. But their cooperation was short-lived. Caravaggio came to the hospital because his horse hit him very hard and after his recovery, he decided to work independently.
The New Stage
Soon Michelangelo met Cardinal Francesco del Monte. He saw several paintings by Caravaggio, and he liked them very much. Cardinal was an educated and cultured person, he appreciated art and was a friend of Galileo, and in 1597, he took the young artist to his service, providing him with a good salary. So three more years passed, and they were not in vain. The artist was noticed, and he began to receive more and more orders. It was at this time that he wrote such paintings as “The Appeal of the Apostle Matthew” and “The Martyrdom of the Apostle Matthew,” and also “The Crucifixion of the Apostle Peter.”
Contemporaries were amazed by his talent. He painted very realistically, his paintings were filled with drama and were very original. He painted in defiance of the religious standards that existed at that time. Of course, there were opponents of his work, who believed that he depicted the saints very mundane. His painting “Saint Matthew and the Angel” was rejected by the church ministers as unworthy. This picture was acquired by the famous collector of the time Marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani, who bought more than 15 paintings afterward.
By 1604, Caravaggio became Italy’s most famous artist of his time, but in addition, he was known as the most scandalous artist, because there was always heated controversy around his paintings. The name of Caravaggio was also associated with bad glory, the glory of the offender. His name appeared more than 10 times in the list of those who violate the law with their careless antics. They included wearing a cold steel without permission (Caravaggio wore a huge dagger), hurling a tray in the waiter’s face, smashing the windows in the house, and these were the least harmless offenses.
The artist even spent some time in prison. On May 28, 1606, he killed a man. If earlier, while he was living in his homeland, this fact was not confirmed, this time it is known for certain. Michelangelo had to flee. The remaining 4 years of his life he had to spend in exile. At first, he was not far from Rome. He still hoped that he would be pardoned. Realizing that this was impossible, he went to Naples. And even there he found customers. 9 months after, he moved to Malta. In Malta, Caravaggio worked very productively, and for his services to the Order of Malta, he was initiated into his knights. But the nature of the artist made itself felt. After another skirmish with a high-ranking adviser of the order, Michelangelo was sent to prison, from which he fled to Sicily.
By the end of the artist’s life, his authorities were no longer looking for him, but he had another danger. It was the revenge of knights. In the autumn of 1609, Michelangelo suffered greatly. In 1610, irony played a cruel joke with the artist, he was sent to prison, but by mistake. He was released soon. But after falling ill with malaria, he died on July 18, 1610, at the age of 39.
Features of Creativity
The work of Caravaggio, which did not belong to any particular art school, arose as an opposition to the dominant trends in Italian art of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The picturesque manner of Caravaggio is based on powerful contrasts of light and shadow, an expressive simplicity of gestures, saturation of color, which create emotional tension and dramatic effect. The folly of the images, the bold assertion of democratic artistic ideals put the artist in opposition to contemporary art.
The significance of Caravaggio turned out to be huge because he was the first in the history of European art to proclaim the essence of artistic images of life-specific phenomena, people for their own occupations, the things that surround them in reality. The innovation of Caravaggio’s concept was that painting became a literal reproduction of life. The creative attitudes of the master, like his numerous followers in different European countries, did not change even when they turned to religious subjects.
The influence of Caravaggio on all subsequent art is enormous. Art was no longer obsessed primarily with the ideal, but saw in nature, as in life itself, the simultaneous presence of opposing principles. In this sense, the picture “Basket with fruit,” where ripe and juicy fruits lie next to rotten and withered ones, is very revealing. As a result, the picture becomes not a proud statement of nature and life, but sad contemplation of the essence of our being.