Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573 - 1610)
Italian baroque painter, who was the most revolutionary artist of his time and the best exemplar of naturalistic painting in the early 17th century.
Originally named Michelangelo Merisi, Caravaggio was born September 28, 1573, in the Lombardy hill town of Caravaggio, from which his professional name is derived. Orphaned at age 11, he was apprenticed to the painter Simone Peterzano of Milan for four years. At some time between 1588 and 1592, Caravaggio went to Rome and worked as an assistant to Giuseppe Cesari, also known as the Cavaliere d'Arpino, for whom he executed fruit and flower pieces (now lost).
Caravaggio's personal life was turbulent. He was often arrested and imprisoned. He fled Rome for Naples in 1606 when charged with murder. Later that year he traveled to Malta, was made a knight, or cavaliere, of the Maltese order. In October of 1608, Caravaggio was again arrested and, escaping from a Maltese jail, went to Syracuse in Sicily. He died on the beach at Port'Ercole in Tuscany on July 18, 1610, of a fever contracted after a mistaken arrest.


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