chapter  1
25 Pages

Caravaggio in Context

This chapter provides an overview of some key moments in Caravaggio's life and of the historical events that shaped his era in order to prove that his popularity is certainly related to his tormented life, while at the same time transcending it. It analyses the issue of the painter's sexuality as this aspect features heavily in many of the fictional texts. The chapter examine the most controversial aspects of his art. It helps to understand some of the problems faced by art historians. The chapter focuses on some major historical events that affected not only Italy but also Europe. As Puglisi reminds, late sixteenth-century Rome was probably the 'most cosmopolitan city in Europe, boasting a unique mix of inhabitants'. Whilst Rome was still relatively small in 1527, by 1600 its population had doubled to 110,000. Michelangelo Merisi's familiarity with Carlo Borromeo's ideas and Counter-Reformation culture are considered to be of vital importance when reading his religious paintings.