Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio – Italian 1573-1610

Michelangelo Merisi da CaravaggioMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, revolutionary naturalist painter, was born in Caravaggio near Milan, the son of a mason. He showed his talent early and at the age of sixteen, after a brief apprenticeship in Milan, he was studying with d'Arpino in Rome. During the period 1592-98 Caravaggio's work was precise in contour, brightly colored, and sculpturesque in form, like the Mannerists, but with an added social and moral consciousness. By 1600 when he had completed his first public commission the St. Matthew paintings for the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, he had established himself as an opponent of both classicism and intellectual Mannerism. Caravaggio chose his models from the common people and set them in ordinary surroundings, yet managed to lose neither poetry nor deep spiritual feeling. His use of chiaroscuro – the contrast of light and dark to create atmosphere, drama, and emotion – was revolutionary. His light is unreal, comes from outside the painting, and creates deep relief and dark shadow. The resulting paintings are as exciting in their effect upon the senses as on the intellect.

Caravaggio's art, strangely enough, was not popular with ordinary people who saw in it a lack of reverence. It was highly appreciated by artists of his time and has become recognized through the centuries for its profoundly religious nature as well as for the new techniques that has changed the art of painting. Though Caravaggio received many commissions for religious paintings during his short life, he led a wild and bohemian existence. In 1606, after killing a man in a fight, he fled to Naples. Unfortunately, he was soon in trouble again, and so was forced to flee to Malta where, finally, after a series of precipitous adventures, died of malaria at the age of thirty-six. His influence, which was first seen in early seventeenth-century Italian art, eventually spread to France, England, Spain and the Netherlands.

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Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon – Paperback: 544 pages; Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (November 12, 2012) Best Seller

In a bravura performance, Andrew Graham-Dixon explores Caravaggio’s staggering artistic achievements, delving into the original Italian sources to create a masterful profile of the mercurial painter.

The Moment of Caravaggio by Michael Fried – Hardcover: 328 pages; Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (August 17, 2010)

This is a groundbreaking examination of one of the most important artists in the Western tradition by one of the leading art historians and critics of the past half-century. In his first extended consideration of the Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610), Michael Fried offers a transformative account of the artist's revolutionary achievement.

Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles (Eminent Lives) by Francine Prose – Hardcover 160 pages; Eminent Lives (October 4, 2005)

The first thing to know about this life of the Italian baroque painter Caravaggio is that it is not a proper biography but rather an informal appreciation by novelist and occasional art critic Prose (Blue Angel). As with the other volumes in the Eminent Lives series, groundbreaking research is not expected. Fair enough. Yet despite her obvious love for the artist, Prose has little of substance to say about him. Once she dispatches with the basic points of the artist's life—that Caravaggio defied the fashion for mannered, pious painting with a gritty but theatrical realism that mirrored the artist's turbulent life—she resorts to the puffed-up style of a student trying to reach a term paper's required length. She stuffs her pages with redundant adjectives ("wan, exhausted, used up," "constant and unchanged") and finds no point too trite to repeat three times: "You can watch an artist realizing that what he is doing is succeeding, that the paint is doing precisely what he wants it to do, that his intention and purpose are finding their way onto the canvas." Even those with only a casual interest in the artist would be better served by Helen Langdon's 1998 biography Caravaggio: A Life, which is as accessible as it is scholarly and is now out in paperback. —Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Caravaggio: Quadrifolio (Rizzoli Quadrifolio) by Stefano Zuffi – Hardcover, 96 pages; (May 2001) Rizzoli

The Rizzoli Quadrifolio art series combines the most popular artists with authoritative text and a fresh, unique format destined to appeal to children and adults alike. Featuring sixteen pages that open up to four times the original size, this series allows the reader to delve into details of individual paintings or see a horizontal development in a fresco. With stunning color reproductions, expert commentary, and a revolutionary format, the Rizzoli Quadrifolios is a pioneering art series.

Caravaggio by Howard Hibbard – Paperback, 404 pages; Reprint edition (February 1985) Icon (Harpe)

Reader review: Hibbard unfolds Caravaggio's life, style and works with a firm grip , avoiding what normally bores the uninitiated but retaining an interesting approach for those who are well versed in the works of this 16th century genius. He avoids a biased approach which very often taints the ever increasing number of Caravaggio critics. Though new material has since been published, this book still retains the requisites of a must-to-read

Caravaggio's Secrets by Leo Bersani, Ulysse Dutoit – Hardcover, 140 pages; (October 1998) MIT Press

Many critics have explored the homoerotic message in the early portraits of the baroque painter Michelangelo Caravaggio (1573-1610). In this book, Bersani and Dutoit study Caravaggio's attempts to move beyond the tension between erotic invitation and self-concealing retreat as he proposed a radically new mode of connectedness: a nonerotic sensuality relevant to the most exciting attempts in our own time to rethink, perhaps even to reinvent community. 26 illustrations, 8 in color.

Caravaggio (Colour Library) by Timothy Wilson-Smith – Paperback, 80 pages; 1st edition (December 1998) Phaidon Press Inc.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) was a boldly original artist who led a short and violent life. His sexually provocative nude figures and his dramatic religious paintings have a psychological power and an undiminished capacity to shock and disturb after almost four centuries.

Caravaggio: Master of Light and Dark, His Life in Paintings (DK Art Books) by Rosa Giorgi – Paperback, 144 pages; (March 1, 1999) DK Publishing

Enter the dark, compelling world of the 16th-century Italian artist Caravaggio and discover the drama and passion of his religious paintings and his masterful handling of color. The DK ArtBook series presents both the life and works of each artist within the cultural, social, and political context of their time. To make the books easy to consult, they are divided into three areas -- the life and works of the artist, historical and cultural background, and analysis of major works -- which are identifiable by side bands. Each spread focuses on a specific theme, with an introductory text and several annotated illustrations. Few art history texts contain such abundance of full-color illustrations. The index section is also illustrated and gives background information on key figures and the location of the artist's works.

Caravaggio: A Life by Helen Langdon – Hardcover, 432 pages; 1st edition (June 1999) Farrar Straus & Giroux (Juv)

Seventeenth-century painter Nicolas Poussin once said that Caravaggio came into the world to destroy painting. Helen Langdon's marvelous biography suggests that rather than destroying painting, the Milanese artist gave it a new lease on life. Upon his arrival in Rome, Caravaggio ended a tradition of Italian Renaissance painting with his radically new naturalistic style, which continues to dazzle and influence viewers today. Beautifully poised between biographical scholarship and artistic appreciation, Langdon's book provides the reader with a complex, fascinating portrait of Caravaggio, still the rebel and outsider of the popular imagination, but also immersed in the Roman world of art, politics, and patronage.

Caravaggio: Complete Works by Sebastian Schütze – Hardcover: 306 pages; Publisher: Taschen (August 25, 2015) Best Seller

Caravaggio, or more accurately Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610), was always a name to be reckoned with. Notorious bad boy of Italian painting, the artist was at once celebrated and controversial: Violent in temper, precise in technique, a creative master, and a man on the run.

This work offers a comprehensive reassessment of Caravaggio’s entire oeuvre with a catalogue raisonné of his works. Each painting is reproduced in large format, with recent, high production photography allowing for dramatic close-ups with Caravaggio's ingenious details of looks and gestures.

Caravaggio: Reflections and Refractions by Lorenzo Pericolo (Author, Editor), David M. Stone (Editor) – Hardcover: 394 pages; Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Company; New edition edition (May 5, 2014)

Art historians from the UK and North America offer new or recently updated interpretations of the works of seventeenth-century Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and of his many followers known as the Caravaggisti. The volume deals with all the major aspects of Caravaggio's paintings: technique, creative process, religious context, innovations in pictorial genre and narrative, market strategies, biography, patronage, reception, and new hermeneutical trends. The concluding section tackles the essential question of Caravaggio's legacy and

Caravaggio: The Artist and His Work by Sybille Ebert-Schifferer – Hardcover: 320 pages; Publisher: J. Paul Getty Museum; 1st edition (June 5, 2012)

Sybille Ebert-Schifferer subjects the available sources to a critical reevaluation, uncovering evidence that the efforts of Caravaggio’s contemporaries to disparage his character and his artwork often sprang from their own cultural biases or a desire to promote the artistic achievements of his rivals.

Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy by Andrea Bayer (Editor), Mina Gregori (Editor) – Hardcover: 272 pages; Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art (May 11, 2004)

Inspired largely by Leonardo's brilliant naturalistic work for the Sforza court in Milan, Lombard artists of the late fifteenth century began to use direct observation to investigate the natural world. This heritage was of considerable importance in northern Italian art for two centuries, finding its greatest expression in the works of Caravaggio and influencing the course of Baroque painting in Rome and eventually elsewhere in Europe.

Painters of Reality identifies the salient characteristics of this naturalistic strand in Lombard art. Building on the scholarship of renowned art historian Roberto Longhi, the authors reexamine the subject in light of subsequent literature. Essays range from broad discussions of naturalism in Lombard paintings and drawings (including a fresh consideration of works by Caravaggio) to more specialized treatments of Leonardo's influence, the schools of painting centered in Brescia, Bergamo, Cremona, and Milan, and Caravaggio's most notable successors in northern Italy.

In addition to Leonardo and Caravaggio, masters such as Lotto, Savoldo, Moroni, and Ceruti and other significant but less widely known figures are represented. With its devotion to recording the unvarnished truth of daily life, its meticulously observed still lifes and landscapes, and its dramatic use of highly focused light to define form, Lombard art was hugely influential in its time and still holds much appeal today.

Caravaggio: A Passionate Life by Desmond Seward – Hardcover, 224 pages; (November 1998) William Morrow & Company

A favorite of Cardinals and the Pope's portrait painter, Michael Angelo de Caravaggio (1571-1610) had an amazingly colorful life and career. This book takes a look at this popular Baroque artist. 16 color illustrations.

Caravaggio by John T. Spike, Michele K. Spike – Hardcover: 272 pages; Publisher: Abbeville Press; Bk & CD-Rom edition (October 2001)

For the first time nearly every extant work by Caravaggio is reproduced in color in this lavish new volume, the long-awaited result of more than 20 years of research by a leading authority on the artist.

In an engaging and in formed text, John T. Spike explores in detail Caravaggio's scandalous life and provocative work. Placing Caravaggio within the broad panorama of society and ideas at the turn of the 17th century, the author sets a richly detailed stage for an artist who has been called "the first modern painter." Caravaggio (1571-1610) reflected in his canvases his own desires and spiritual crises to an extent no one ever had imagined possible, and he shocked his contemporaries by portraying the saints and virgins of Christianity with the faces and bodies of his companions and lovers in Rome's demimonde.

Accompanying the book is a critical catalog on CD-ROM in which all of Caravaggio's extant paintings, as well as lost and rejected works, are thoroughly described. Each entry specifies the work's medium, dimensions, location, and provenance, and provides an annotated bibliography of sources. Most of the entries conclude with a brief technical analysis. Much of this scientific data, of prime importance for attribution and dating, has not previously been published.

With its fresh insights, as well as judicious readings of the documents and the physical evidence of the paintings themselves, Caravaggio is the most thorough study on the artist to date, and it will no doubt remain a definitive monograph for many years to come. 160 color, 190 b/w illustrations. 11 x 13" trim size.

Caravaggio (Masters of Art) by Alfred Moir – Hardcover, 128 pages; Reprint edition (October 1989) Harry N Abrams

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610) of Lombardy lived a life fraught with violence, yet his paintings were sought after by wealthy patrons of his day. Moir here provides an illustrated introduction to this complex artist known for his heightened chiaroscuro and his realistic form in painting. But be advised that the text of this glossy volume is reprinted from the author's earlier work of the same title, which appears in Abrams's more ambitious series, "The Library of Great Painters." The earlier edition may already be in public and academic collections and is preferred for its index and biographical notes with scholarly attributions. This scaled-down version contains neither, and lacks footnotes as well. Still, with its 40 color plates, it ought to appeal to high school students and interested lay persons. Recommended with above caution; libraries with the earlier book need not consider. —Ellen Bates, Bank of America, New York © Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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