Essentials:

Caravaggio

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Biography Early life (1571-1592)
Early life (1571-1592)


The Crucifixion of Saint Peter, 1601. Oil on canvas, 230 x 175 cm. Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome.
Caravaggio’s father, Fermo Merisi, was a household administrator and architect-decorator to Francesco Sforza, Marchese of Caravaggio, a town some thirty kilometers from Milan. His mother, Lucia Aratori, came from a propertied family of the same district. None of the Merisi children — Michelangelo was Lucia’s eldest — are listed on the baptismal records from Caravaggio, and all were probably born in Milan, where the Marchese had his court and where their father lived. In 1576 the family moved to Caravaggio to escape a plague which ravaged Milan. Caravaggio’s father died there in 1577. It is assumed that the artist grew up in Caravaggio, but his family kept up connections with the Sforzas and with the powerful Colonna family, who were allied by marriage with the Sforzas and destined to play a major role in Caravaggio’s later life.[3]
In 1584 he was apprenticed for four years to the painter Simone Peterzano of Milan, described in the contract of apprenticeship as a pupil of Titian. Caravaggio appears to have stayed in the Milan-Caravaggio area after his apprenticeship ended, but it is possible that he visited Venice and saw the works of Giorgione, whom he was later accused of aping, and of Titian. Certainly he would have become familiar with the art treasures of Milan, including Leonardo’s Last Supper, and with the regional Lombard art, a style which valued “simplicity and attention to naturalistic detail”[4] and was closer to the naturalism of Germany than to the stylised formality and grandeur of Roman Mannerism.
 
 

 

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