Caravaggio was born as Michelangelo Merisi in Italy around 1571. He was orphaned at age 11 and apprenticed (which means worked under to learn), with a painter in Milan.
He moved to Rome, where his work became popular for some of the interesting techniques he used, which used shadow to emphasize lighter areas.
His career, however, didn’t last that long. Caravaggio killed a man during a brawl and fled to Rome. Wow, he certainly wasn’t a pleasant man was he?
He died not long after, on July 18, 1610.
Caravaggio’s Early Years
We don’t know too much about Caravaggio’s early family life. His father, Fermo Merisi, was the steward and architect of the marquis of Caravaggio.
When Caravaggio was six, the bubonic plague killed almost everyone in his family, including his father. That is so sad!
At the age of 11, Caravaggio moved to Milan and began apprenticing with the painter Simone Peterzano.
In his late teens, maybe as early as 1588, Caravaggio moved to Rome with absolutely no money.
To make sure he had food he worked with other painters, and in fact most of them weren’t as talented as he was.
But he jumped from job to job and never really found what he wanted to do.
But, in about 1595, he decided to work on his own and started selling his paintings through a dealer.
His work soon caught the attention of Cardinal Francesco del Monte, who adored Caravaggio’s paintings and quickly set him up in his own house, with room, board and a pension.
Phew, lucky for him!
Caravaggio was one quick painter that’s for sure. He normally completed each painting in around 2 weeks! That’s quite something for a painting.
By the time he had been ‘found’ by del Monte, he had already painted 40 paintings. These included ‘Boy with a Basket of Fruit,’ ‘The Young Bacchus’ and ‘The Music Party.’
Most of his early work had chubby, pretty young boys done up as angels or his favorite saint, John the Baptist.
Interesting Facts about Caravaggio
Caravaggio had a violent temper and he often got into fights. As we mentioned, he even killed a man in 1606 and then fled to Rome.
At one point Caravaggio had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope. Wow, that’s kinda scary!
Carvaggio’s full name was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio or Michelangelo Merisi from Caravaggio. Wow, now that’s a long name – can you say it all?
Caravaggio is a small town in northern Italy, near Milan where Caravaggio was born and from where he took his nickname.
At the age of 39, Caravaggio died on July 18, 1610, at Porto Ecole on the coast of Tuscany, Italy.
Only about 50 of Caravaggio’s paintings can be seen in their original condition.
Caravaggio sometimes placed his own face in his paintings. He was the face of Goliath in his painting David with the head of Goliath.
Caravaggio only signed one of his paintings, La Decollazione di San Giovanni Battista, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.
Caravaggio and some of his famous paintings can be seen on the front and back of old Italian Lira banknotes.
In 2010, scientists stated that they believed with 85% certainty that they had discovered the bones of Caravaggio.
Unlike other painters, Caravaggio worked directly onto the canvas.
Caravaggio’s career lasted only 13 years. That sure is a short time!
So now you know all there is to know about this very interesting painter Caravaggio. Not sure we would like to have bumped into him in a dark street, in case he was in a bad mood!