Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio Got Criticism From Shocked Catholics

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was the quintessential Italian baroque painter who pioneered the art technique of tenebrism. It is an art technique that implements chiaroscuro, an effect used to amplify the contrast between light and shadow.


Caravaggio’s complete works were a compilation of dramatic ends, and the painting series had darkness illuminating spotlight effects. Caravaggio’s famous paintings stemmed from the chromatic experimentation of mannerism and his observation of naturalism. Mastering so many artistic techniques allowed Caravaggio to heighten intellectual and emotional engagement with spectators.


Other than having consolidated artworks that gathered him a lot of fame, he faced criticism due to his unacceptable and criminal choices. Learn about Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, some of Caravaggio’s famous paintings, and how he got criticism from shocked Catholics.

Caravaggio- The Dangerous Criminal

Besides artistic wit, Caravaggio had a short temper, which quickly led him to fall behind bars. He committed such bizarre infractions as swearing at a constable or keeping an unlicensed sword with himself.


He cut a hole in the ceiling of his house to enhance more natural light while painting. This caused his landlord to throw him out, but it barely affected him. Apart from this, he was brought to trial for significant crimes a minimum of eleven times. His series of crimes, including scaring a guard and throwing dishes in the face of a waiter, was some more to the list.


The death of Ranuccio Tomassoni is linked to the hands of Caravaggio. Tomassoni was a Roman pimp who in some way insulted a prostitute whom Caravaggio adored more than anything at that time. He asked Ranuccio to play a game of tennis to start a duel, and the tension between the two started over a mere gambling debt.


Others believe that there were no intentions of Caravaggio to kill Tomassoni. But, during the brawl over the tennis games, situations caught flame, and things went out of control, leading to Tomassoni’s death at the hands of Caravaggio.

Caravaggio’s Prison Life


A death warrant was issued under the name of Caravaggio as a punishment for Tomassoni’s murder. The warrant listed his execution at any time in Rome. It was then that Caravaggio escaped from there and fled to Naples. He hid himself in the homes of noble families like Sforza and Colonnas.


Throughout his exile, he never left painting and continued to travel to Sicily to paint, including The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. In this article an art lover could find an interesting facts about Caravaggio life and check Caravaggio famous paintings.

Beheading of Saint John the Baptist – Caravaggio


This could have presumably secured him a pardon for his death warrant, so Caravaggio opted for this opportunity. Unfortunately, however, it was not much later that he again assaulted a higher-ranking knight during another tiff. This left him again in prison and stripped of his knighthood.


Again, he somehow managed to escape and moved to Sicily, where he lived in constant fear. And when his paranoia was revealed in reality, some men ambushed him and brutally attacked him, leaving his face permanently disfigured.

Caravaggisti- The Influence of The Artist


His works left enormous impacts on the artists everywhere he went, and the hype of Caravaggio’s tenebrism followed this. The truncated compositions and the magnificent artworks he created were called Carvaggisti.


Carlo Saraceni and Artemisia Gentileschi looked to Michelangelo as the best in cutting-edge paintings in Rome. In Naples, Battistello Caracciolo led an art movement called Neapolitan Caravaggisti which became a significant influence around Western Europe.


Interestingly, the Italian mafia may have stolen a Caravaggio painting in 1969. The painting Caravaggio’s Nativity with St Francis and Saint Lawrence went missing from the oratory of Saint Lawrence in Palermo.


The painting was displayed at major meetings and gatherings where high-ranking mafias were invited. But it was damaged and destroyed subsequently to lure the audience, and the work was not found later on. This precious Caravaggisti was valued at approximately $20 million.

Criticism From Shocked Catholics

It’s no doubt that Caravaggio was a beloved artist of his time, but some of his works were the highlight of consistent criticism from shocker Catholics. Nevertheless, his ability to admire art from different perspectives made him the artist.


However, some instances questioned the ethics behind his artworks. Some contemporary critics noticed and pointed out the heightened naturalism in his paintings. According to them, these were obsolete and brutal, which diverged too drastically from the idealization values of the Renaissance.


Devout Catholics didn’t appreciate the biblical scenes populated with drunkards, prostitutes, and saints picturized in the foreground of his creations. The choices and subjects that intrigued Caravaggisti were not something that convinced the Catholics to give it a green flag. But none of these events affected Caravaggio to take a setback and change the style or imagination with which he painted his heart.


Caravaggio’s status as a Michelangelo Merisi master was so top-notch that, unlike other contemporary artists, his works were not available for sale. Instead, his paintings were exclusive and were auctioned to bag the highest price. Judith Beheading Holofernes discovered that his paintings’ gross value could be priced at $170 million in recent times.

Judith Beheading Holofernes c. 1598 – Caravaggio

The Bottom Line

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a contradictory personality for scholars and Catholics because of his elaborative painting style that questioned the ethics of biblical themes. Apart from it, the artistic forte which Caravaggio possessed was unparallel, and artworks such as those he made contributions to were the highest-priced paintings of all time Read More

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