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Andrew Graham-Dixon: Caravaggio

Andrew Graham-Dixon: Caravaggio

A life Sacred and Profane. UK/USA/CAN 2010, 514pp. illustrated, hardbound,  39.95
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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio lived the darkest and most dangerous life of any of the great painters. The patrons of the church competed to have the leading artists jostled for their favour. In a fight Caravaggio, a particularly violent man, killed Ranuccio Tomassoni, a pimp, and fled afterwards to Naples and then Malta, where he escaped from prison following his convicton for another vicious assault. Fleeing once more he fell victim himself to a crippling vendetta attack. Shortly afterwards, he died while returning to Rome to seek a papal pardon for his crimes. He was 38 years old. In the course of his desperate life Caravaggio created the most dramatic paintings of his age, using ordinary men and women - often prostitutes and the very poor - to model for his depictions of classic religious scenes. For 400 years Caravaggio's tumultous life and mysterious death have been surrounded by speculation. This is the first biography to present all the main evidence at first hand. Startling new light is shed on the friendships and enmities that shaped his art and brought about his premature death.
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