Villainy and visionaries: how Caravaggio’s followers saw the light (from THE GUARDIAN)

Revered as a worker of miracles, reviled as a violent offender, Caravaggio became one of the most influential painters in Europe. Now a major new exhibition will give his followers the recognition they too deserve.

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) died young, had a public career for only 10 years, had no workshop, bequeathed no drawings and left no pupils, and the only places he travelled to outside mainland Italy were the Mediterranean speck of Malta and, briefly, Sicily. Nevertheless, by the time of his death he was famous far beyond the bounds of his homeland and, within a few years, his reputation had spread to the furthest reaches of Europe.

The artist family tree of which Caravaggio forms the trunk branches out to encompass some of the greatest names of the 17th century – among them,Velázquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, Ribera, Vermeer, Georges de La Tour – and then upwards to Manet, Delacroix and Géricault in the 19th century and Bacon in the 20th. His effect on film is no less important, with Martin Scorsese, Peter Greenaway and Derek Jarman among those directors who have acknowledged a debt to him. So it is perhaps this second great Michelangelo – Caravaggio – whose paintings, in the phrase of his biographer Andrew Graham-Dixon, are “like looking at the world by flashes ….. READ MORE ON THEGUARDIAN.COM

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