1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 164: Caravaggio, by Gilles Lambert

This is another from the Taschen collection and details the works of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.  The book serves more as a biographical piece, but seems to skip over perhaps the most interesting aspects of Caravaggio’s life.  It details his birth and upbringing to a small degree, and follows his professional career in great depth, starting off with an apprenticeship, the formation of some beneficial friendships and his ultimate celebrity in Rome, where though he was offered many commissions, his work always met with mixed results as people either seemed to love or hate his work.  Caravaggio was considered a master of shadows, and it shows through in his work as he often relies on darkness and shadows as much as impressionists relied on light and colours.  But as beautiful as his paintings were, in a macabre kind of way, his life outside of art is perhaps more interesting still.  He fled to Rome after having an altercation with a police officer that saw him injure the officer in question, and whilst in Rome managed to kill somebody, as well as taking part in several duels with knifes.  He had to flee Rome after he failed to get a pardon for one of his many transgressions (he did receive more than one pardon in the past), and eventually became a knight elsewhere on the map, a title he apparently wanted for the sole purpose of carrying a sword around with him.  During his time away from Rome he managed to get severely injured in a knife fight, which he miraculously survived, after which he headed back toward Rome, hoping to get a long awaited pardon.  Alas, the pardon came, but several days too late as Caravaggio was already dead.  His body was found on a Spanish beach.  Perhaps somebody from the Spanish army had killed him, perhaps infections in his wounds were the cause of his death, perhaps some bandits killed him.  When news of his death spread not even his biographer had kind words to say of him: “His death, like his life, was disgraceful”.  If your own biographer has nothing nice to say about you, chances are history will not be so kind.  His estate, which was seized Spanish authorities was offered to the Knights of Saint John, who Caravaggio had boasted of being a member of, but they declined his last two paintings and whatever else happened to be included with Caravaggio’s estate, leaving them to auction.  And judging from his collected works there seems to be the distinct possibility that Caravaggio was a homosexual pedophile, but that is simply my conjecture, and I could be way off, but I don’t think I am.   His life sounds like a screenplay in the making!

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.


  1. Samantha says:

    This is interesting Jason….A movie in the making I hope 🙂

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