by Andrew Graham-Dixon
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (29 September 1571–18 July 1610) lived probably the darkest and most dangerous life of any of the great painters. The worlds of Milan and Rome through which Caravaggio moved and which Andrew Graham-Dixon describes brilliantly in this book, are those of cardinals and prostitutes, prayer and violence. Graham-Dixon puts the murder of a pimp, Ranuccio Tomassoni, at the centre of his story. It occurred at the height of Caravaggio’s fame in Rome and probably brought about his flight through Malta and Sicily, which led to his death in suspicious circumstances off the coast of Naples. Graham-Dixon shows how Caravaggio’s paintings emerged from this extraordinarily wild and troubled life: his detailed readings of them explain their originality and Caravaggio’s mentality better than any of his predecessors.
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