Eight facts about Michelangelo da Caravaggio

3 min readMay 22, 2021


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, was born in 1571. The artist is one of the founders of realism in the European painting of the 17th century. His paintings were distinguished by a heightened sense of materiality, emotional tension, conciseness and simplicity of composition. The artist worked without being alienated to deliberate naturalistic effects, especially in scenes of violence and cruelty. The paintings were so out of step with the canons of the time that they were often hidden from the audience. At exhibitions, they were shown last so that people had time to see other canvases. The paintings were covered with cloth and unveiled only at the very end of the exhibition.

Michelangelo da Caravaggio created one of the first still lifes, Basket of Fruit, he worked for a long time on still lifes at the gallery of the famous Roman artist Cesari d’Arpino. First, fruit became a frequent element of his works, and later — the main character. Michelangelo painted “Basket of Fruit” at the age of 23. It was later recognized as a masterpiece. This pure still life is one of the first in European painting.

The emotional tension in Michelangelo’s paintings appeared through the contrast of light and shadow, as artistic elements. Caravaggio is said to have painted in a dark room with a small window through which only a ray of light would pass.

The figures in Caravaggio’s paintings are three-dimensional, almost tangible. Often he painted with an inclined mirror to convey the volume of the image and capture the three-dimensionality of objects.

Michelangelo was accused of murder. He was loved mostly by common people. His characters were not the rich, but people from the street crowd, endowed with brutal sensual beauty and naturalness of thoughtless life, the outcasts of society. Caravaggio had to literally fight off the abusers. Once, in 1606, he became a party to the fight. Caravaggio himself was wounded, two other men were killed. Then he was accused of murder.

After this, the artist fled Rome. He was in Naples, Malta, where he even received a knighthood for his portrait of the Grand Master of the order. But then he ended up in jail for insulting a member of the order. After escaping from prison, he wanted to return to Rome, but he got robbed on the way back. The artist was ready to walk hundreds of miles, but he was stopped by a terrible fever attack. Caravaggio was not even 37 years old when he died, it happened in 1610.

While fulfilling church commissions, Caravaggio would not escape his manner of depicting people. His gods looked like peasants, and his religious subjects were closer to domestic scenes. Interestingly, the church once even refused to accept his work because of this. The painting was called Death of Virgin, the priests of one of the Roman churches, for which Michelangelo created this painting, refused to approve it. They were outraged by the fact that the apostle and Mary were depicted as ordinary people, without divine awe.

Caravaggio’s biographers claim that not a single drawing or sketch has been discovered. The artist immediately realized all his complex compositions on canvas.

For a long time after Michelangelo’s death a special artistic phenomenon called Caravaggism would exist in Europe. He influenced the work of not only Italian masters, but also Rubens, Jordaens, George de La Tour, Zurbaran, Velázquez, Rembrandt. Caravagistas appeared in Spain — Jusepe de Ribera, France — Trophime Bigot, the Netherlands -Gerard van Honthorst, Hendrick ter Brugghen and other European countries, not to mention Italy itself — Orazio Gentileschi.