Caravaggio : A Life Sacred and Profane, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio lived the darkest and most dangerous life of any of the great painters.

The worlds of Milan, Rome and Naples through which Caravaggio moved and which Andrew Graham-Dixon describes brilliantly in this book, are those of cardinals and whores, prayer and violence.

On the streets surrounding the churches and palaces, brawls and sword fights were regular occurrences.

In the course of this 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. Andrew Graham-Dixon's exceptionally illuminating readings of Caravaggio's pictures, which are the heart of the book, show very clearly how he created their drama, immediacy and humanity, and how completely he departed from the conventions of his time.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 544 pages, Illustrations (chiefly col.), maps
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Art & design styles: Baroque
  • ISBN: 9780241954645



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A highly enjoyable biography about Michelangelo Merisi called Caravaggio who lived in an age where painters. writers and composers were of the same social class as prostitutes and servants. It also looks like that he owed the start of his career more to a cardinal's interest in him as a boy toy than his art. Andrew Graham-Dixon makes a good case that Caravaggio's violent life was partly due to his involvement in prostitution and acting as a pimp, dueling with competitors in the streets of Rome.His cinematic, dramatic art is mirrored in his equally dramatic and violent short life whose scenes merited their own Caravaggio paintings. How would he depict his imprisonment in a cell of the Knights of Malta? Or mortally wounding his opponent in the groin in Rome? Graham-Dixon brings both the stories and discussions of his paintings to the table. Recommended.

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