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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

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Un Genio dell'Arte
An Artistic Genius

Worksheet

Caravaggio is a town in the north of Italy, close to Milan.  It is here where a boy called Michelangelo Merisi grew up.   

Later, the boy became a famous artist known as Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, with the last two words of his name meaning 'from Caravaggio.'   

Eventually, this long name became a simple, short version:- Caravaggio.   That is to say, just the name of the town.

Michelangelo Merisi was born in Milan in 1571.  His father was called Fermo and his mother was Lucia.  They were well-to-do. 

In 1576, the family moved to the town of Caravaggio to escape a terrible outbreak of la peste (the plague).  Unfortunately, even though they were living away from the dreadful sickness in Milan, the plague reached the town of Caravaggio and even killed some of Michelangelo's family.

In 1584, Michelangelo Merisi began to train as an artist in the Milan area but he fled to Rome in 1592 after a quarrel. 

Very soon, he was painting in a particular style:- fruit and flowers. 

The painting below is called: Fanciullo con Canestra di Frutta meaning 'Young Boy with a Basket of Fruit.'   He created this oil painting between 1593 and 1594.  It can be seen in la Galleria Borghese, Rome. 

The boy in the painting is actually Mario Minniti: a friend and fellow artist who often posed for Caravaggio.  

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At first glance, the fruit painted by Caravaggio seems very beautiful, but when you look at it closely, you can see that he has painted it realistically with blemishes and imperfections.  Just like real fruit!

Another interesting style of Caravaggio's painting is the portrayal of people being dishonest and cheating!  Below is a famous painting called 'The fortune teller'.  In Italian it is named 'La Buona Ventura', (1593-1594).  It is visible at Musei Capitolini, Rome.   

Once again, it is Caravaggio's friend Mario Minniti who is the young man in the painting below!  If you look carefully, you will see that the gypsy girl is stealing the ring from the young man's finger whilst pretending to read his palm.

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The painting below depicts a card game where there is some cheating taking place.  It was painted around 1594 and can be seen in the Kimbell Art Museum, Texas.

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Caravaggio is known for how real the people seem in his paintings.  He used models who were often friends and acquaintances so that he did not have to pay for expensive models.  Sometimes, you will notice the same person in different paintings.

 

An interesting fact:- Caravaggio is known to have included his