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Caravaggio, Michelangelo Amerighi

CARAVAGGIO, MICHELANGELO AMERIGHI (or Merigi) DA (1569-1609), Italian painter, was born in the village of Caravaggio, in Lombardy, from which he received his name. He was originally a mason's labourer, but his powerful genius directed him to painting, at which he worked with immitigable energy and amazing force. He despised every sort of idealism whether noble or emasculate, became the head of the Naturalisti (unmodified imitators of ordinary nature) in painting, and adopted a style of potent contrasts of light and shadow, laid on with a sort of fury, indicative of that fierce temper which led the artist to commit a homicide in a gambling quarrel at Rome. To avoid the consequences of his crime he fled to Naples and to Malta, where he was imprisoned for another attempt to avenge a quarrel. Escaping to Sicily, he was attacked by a party sent in pursuit of him, and severely wounded. Being pardoned, he set out for Rome; but having been arrested by mistake before his arrival, and afterwards released, and left to shift for himself in excessive heat, and still suffering from wounds and hardships, he died of fever on the beach at Pontercole in 1609. His best pictures are the "Entombment of Christ," now in the Vatican; "St Sebastian," in the Roman Capitol; a magnificent whole-length portrait of a grand-master of the Knights of Malta, Alof de Vignacourt, and his page, in the Louvre; and the Borghese "Supper at Emmaus."

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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