Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio Italian 1573-1610
Merisi da Caravaggio, revolutionary naturalist painter,
was born in Caravaggio near Milan, the son of a mason. He
showed his talent early and at the age of sixteen, after a
brief apprenticeship in Milan, he was studying with d'Arpino
in Rome. During the period 1592-98 Caravaggio's work was precise
in contour, brightly colored, and sculpturesque in form, like
the Mannerists, but with an added social and moral consciousness.
By 1600 when he had completed his first public commission
the St. Matthew paintings for the church of San Luigi dei
Francesi, he had established himself as an opponent of both
classicism and intellectual Mannerism. Caravaggio chose his
models from the common people and set them in ordinary surroundings,
yet managed to lose neither poetry nor deep spiritual feeling.
His use of chiaroscuro the contrast of light and dark
to create atmosphere, drama, and emotion was revolutionary.
His light is unreal, comes from outside the painting, and
creates deep relief and dark shadow. The resulting paintings
are as exciting in their effect upon the senses as on the
Caravaggio's art, strangely enough, was not popular with ordinary
people who saw in it a lack of reverence. It was highly appreciated
by artists of his time and has become recognized through the
centuries for its profoundly religious nature as well as for
the new techniques that has changed the art of painting. Though
Caravaggio received many commissions for religious paintings
during his short life, he led a wild and bohemian existence.
In 1606, after killing a man in a fight, he fled to Naples.
Unfortunately, he was soon in trouble again, and so was forced
to flee to Malta where, finally, after a series of precipitous
adventures, died of malaria at the age of thirty-six. His influence,
which was first seen in early seventeenth-century Italian art,
eventually spread to France, England, Spain and the Netherlands.
for all Caravaggio books on AMAZON
Painter of Miracles (Eminent Lives) by Francine Prose
Hardcover 160 pages Eminent Lives (October 4, 2005)
The first thing to know about this life of the Italian baroque
painter Caravaggio is that it is not a proper biography but
rather an informal appreciation by novelist and occasional art
critic Prose (Blue Angel). As with the other volumes in the
Eminent Lives series, groundbreaking research is not expected.
Fair enough. Yet despite her obvious love for the artist, Prose
has little of substance to say about him. Once she dispatches
with the basic points of the artist's lifethat Caravaggio
defied the fashion for mannered, pious painting with a gritty
but theatrical realism that mirrored the artist's turbulent
lifeshe resorts to the puffed-up style of a student trying
to reach a term paper's required length. She stuffs her pages
with redundant adjectives ("wan, exhausted, used up,"
"constant and unchanged") and finds no point too trite
to repeat three times: "You can watch an artist realizing
that what he is doing is succeeding, that the paint is doing
precisely what he wants it to do, that his intention and purpose
are finding their way onto the canvas." Even those with
only a casual interest in the artist would be better served
by Helen Langdon's 1998 biography Caravaggio: A Life, which
is as accessible as it is scholarly and is now out in paperback.
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Caravaggio: Quadrifolio (Rizzoli Quadrifolio) by
Stefano Zuffi Hardcover, 96 pages (May 2001) Rizzoli
The Rizzoli Quadrifolio art series combines the most popular
artists with authoritative text and a fresh, unique format destined
to appeal to children and adults alike. Featuring sixteen pages
that open up to four times the original size, this series allows
the reader to delve into details of individual paintings or
see a horizontal development in a fresco. With stunning color
reproductions, expert commentary, and a revolutionary format,
the Rizzoli Quadrifolios is a pioneering art series.
Caravaggio by Howard Hibbard Paperback, 404 pages Reprint edition
(February 1985) Icon (Harpe)
Reader review: Hibbard unfolds Caravaggio's life, style
and works with a firm grip , avoiding what normally bores the
uninitiated but retaining an interesting approach for those
who are well versed in the works of this 16th century genius.
He avoids a biased approach which very often taints the ever
increasing number of Caravaggio critics. Though new material
has since been published, this book still retains the requisites
of a must-to-read
A Passionate Life by Desmond Seward Hardcover,
224 pages (November 1998) William Morrow & Company
A favorite of Cardinals and the Pope's portrait painter, Michael
Angelo de Caravaggio (1571-1610) had an amazingly colorful life
and career. This book takes a look at this popular Baroque artist.
16 color illustrations.
Secrets by Leo Bersani, Ulysse Dutoit Hardcover,
140 pages (October 1998) MIT Press
Many critics have explored the homoerotic message in the early
portraits of the baroque painter Michelangelo Caravaggio (1573-1610).
In this book, Bersani and Dutoit study Caravaggio's attempts
to move beyond the tension between erotic invitation and self-concealing
retreat as he proposed a radically new mode of connectedness:
a nonerotic sensuality relevant to the most exciting attempts
in our own time to rethink, perhaps even to reinvent community.
26 illustrations, 8 in color.
(Colour Library) by Timothy Wilson-Smith Paperback,
80 pages 1 Ed edition (December 1998) Phaidon Press Inc.
Caravaggio (DK Art Books) by Rosa Giorgi Paperback,
144 pages; (March 1, 1999) DK Publishing
of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy
(Metropolitan Museum of Art Series) by Andrea Bayer (Editor),
Mina Gregori (Editor) Hardcover: 272 pages Publisher: Metropolitan
Museum of Art (May 11, 2004)
Inspired largely by Leonardo's brilliant naturalistic work for
the Sforza court in Milan, Lombard artists of the late fifteenth
century began to use direct observation to investigate the natural
world. This heritage was of considerable importance in northern
Italian art for two centuries, finding its greatest expression
in the works of Caravaggio and influencing the course of Baroque
painting in Rome and eventually elsewhere in Europe. Painters
of Reality identifies the salient characteristics of this
naturalistic strand in Lombard art. Building on the scholarship
of renowned art historian Roberto Longhi, the authors reexamine
the subject in light of subsequent literature. Essays range
from broad discussions of naturalism in Lombard paintings and
drawings (including a fresh consideration of works by Caravaggio)
to more specialized treatments of Leonardo's influence, the
schools of painting centered in Brescia, Bergamo, Cremona, and
Milan, and Caravaggio's most notable successors in northern
Italy. In addition to Leonardo and Caravaggio, masters such
as Lotto, Savoldo, Moroni, and Ceruti and other significant
but less widely known figures are represented. With its devotion
to recording the unvarnished truth of daily life, its meticulously
observed still lifes and landscapes, and its dramatic use of
highly focused light to define form, Lombard art was hugely
influential in its time and still holds much appeal today.
by John T. Spike, Michelangelo Merisi Da Caravaggio, Michele
K. Spike Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Abbeville Press; Bk & CD-Rom edition (October
For the first time nearly every extant work by Caravaggio is
reproduced in color in this lavish new volume, the long-awaited
result of more than 20 years of research by a leading authority
on the artist.
In an engaging and in formed text, John T. Spike explores in
detail Caravaggio's scandalous life and provocative work. Placing
Caravaggio within the broad panorama of society and ideas at
the turn of the 17th century, the author sets a richly detailed
stage for an artist who has been called "the first modern
painter." Caravaggio (1571-1610) reflected in his canvases
his own desires and spiritual crises to an extent no one ever
had imagined possible, and he shocked his contemporaries by
portraying the saints and virgins of Christianity with the faces
and bodies of his companions and lovers in Rome's demimonde.
Accompanying the book is a critical catalog on CD-ROM in which
all of Caravaggio's extant paintings, as well as lost and rejected
works, are thoroughly described. Each entry specifies the work's
medium, dimensions, location, and provenance, and provides an
annotated bibliography of sources. Most of the entries conclude
with a brief technical analysis. Much of this scientific data,
of prime importance for attribution and dating, has not previously
With its fresh insights, as well as judicious readings of the
documents and the physical evidence of the paintings themselves,
Caravaggio is the most thorough study on the artist to date,
and it will no doubt remain a definitive monograph for many
years to come. 160 color, 190 b/w illustrations. 11 x 13"
Caravaggio: A Life by Helen Langdon Hardcover,
432 pages 1st farrar edition (June 1999) Farrar Straus & Giroux
Seventeenth-century painter Nicolas Poussin once said that Caravaggio
came into the world to destroy painting. Helen Langdon's marvelous
biography suggests that rather than destroying painting, the
Milanese artist gave it a new lease on life. Upon his arrival
in Rome, Caravaggio ended a tradition of Italian Renaissance
painting with his radically new naturalistic style, which continues
to dazzle and influence viewers today. Beautifully poised between
biographical scholarship and artistic appreciation, Langdon's
book provides the reader with a complex, fascinating portrait
of Caravaggio, still the rebel and outsider of the popular imagination,
but also immersed in the Roman world of art, politics, and patronage.
Caravaggio (Masters of Art) by Alfred Moir
Hardcover, 128 pages Reprint edition (October 1989) Harry N
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610) of Lombardy lived
a life fraught with violence, yet his paintings were sought after
by wealthy patrons of his day. Moir here provides an illustrated
introduction to this complex artist known for his heightened chiaroscuro
and his realistic form in painting. But be advised that the text
of this glossy volume is reprinted from the author's earlier work
of the same title, which appears in Abrams's more ambitious series,
"The Library of Great Painters." The earlier edition may
already be in public and academic collections and is preferred for
its index and biographical notes with scholarly attributions. This
scaled-down version contains neither, and lacks footnotes as well.
Still, with its 40 color plates, it ought to appeal to high school
students and interested lay persons. Recommended with above caution;
libraries with the earlier book need not consider. Ellen
Bates, Bank of America, New York © Copyright 1989 Reed Business
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