Caravaggio (Renaissance artist)
Caravaggio (1571 –1610) was an Italian Renaissance painter.
Background and history
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian artist who was active in Rome, Sicily, Malta and Naples from the year 1593 until his death in 1610. His is noted for his painting style that combined a realistic observation of the state of the human being and a dramatic use of lighting. He had a profound influence on the Baroque school of painting. Caravaggio trained in painting in Milan under a master who had trained under Titian.
He moved to Rome in his early twenties where there were numerous huge churches and palazzi being built and hence, paintings were in demand to fill them. The Roman Catholic for instance was looking for religious art during the Counter-Reformation era and this was in a bid to counter the threat of Protestantism. Caravaggio’s uniqueness was a radical naturalism that made use of physical observation and a dramatic and even at times made use of chiaroscuro.
Influence on Other Artists
Caravaggio has a profound influence on a number of artists. He had the bravado to paint scenes that were filled with sexual innuendos, deceit and thievery in his ‘low life’ genere scenes like The Cardsharps and Victorious Cupid. He is considered to be a central figure in the development of still life painting.
He also created religious works such as The Conversion of St. Paul and The Crucifixion of St. Peter which are filled with dramatic lighting and complicated compositions that went completely against the norm. Manfredi’s Allegory of the Four Seasons, Gustave Courbet’s Bathers and Self Portrait and Diego Velasquez’s Water Seller of Seville are all influenced by Caravaggio.
Most Famous Works
Amongst the more renowned paintings by Caravaggio are The Musicians (from the Metropolitan Museum), Basket of Fruit (from Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan), Judith Beheading Holofernes (Palazzo Barberini in Rome), and The Conversion of St. Paul (Cerasi Chapel, Rome).
Most Expensive Work
Caravaggio’s most expensive painting is The Lute Player (1596). It is a oil on canvas painting which is 100 by 126.5 cm. It is also one of the most famous paintings by Caravaggio. There are three versions of the paintings that exist. One of the versions is displayed at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. These paintings are a stunning testament of Caravaggio’s masterly use of the chiaroscuro.
Notable Auction Sales
The Lute Player is a painting by Caravaggio. It exists in three versions, one in the Wildenstein Collection, another in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg and a third from Badminton House, Gloucestershire, which came to light in 2007. The three versions fetch between $75 million to $100 million in auction sales.
Popularity with Collectors
Caravaggio has been very popular with collectors from the start of his career. He used his popularity to garner commissions from a Rome’s wealthiest collectors and patrons. Because his works are some of the most expensive in today’s rates, it is important to note that he is one of the most popular artists with collectors. This is also the reason why his paintings are some of the most expensive paintings in the world today.
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