Michelangelo Merisi’s Lives: The ‘Painter as Character’ Genre
This chapter looks at a sample of fictional biographies or life stories and at a RAI docudrama devoted to Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio with the intention of providing a possible explanation for what could easily be described as an obsession with the painter's life. It provides a brief overview of the interaction between the discipline of art history, the art industry and fiction, cinema or television. The chapter considers the impact of more developments in art history in fashioning a 'populist' counter-image which emphasizes the painter's interest in ordinary people rather than his propensity to violence. It looks at biographies and fictional biographies in the context of postmodern literary theory and reflect on how this old and traditional genre can appeal to our contemporary world. Particular attention will be given to the 'author as character' genre, as defined by Paul Franssen and Ton Hoenselaars, of which the 'painter as character' is considered to be a variation.