Today would have been the 446th birthday of the infamous baroque painter who – even in his own lifetime – was considered enigmatic, fascinating, rebellious and dangerous. Caravaggio arrived in Rome in 1592, where he quickly rose to prominence as an artist, and as a violent, touchy and provocative man. While he never painted a single female nude, his best-known works from this period include a Boy with a Basket of Fruit and the Young Sick Bacchus. Allegedly a self-portrait done during convalescence from a serious illness, this  ultimately ended his employment with Giuseppe Cesari, one of Pope Clement VIII favourite painters. Maddalena di Paolo Antognetti, a famous courtesan at that time, named Caravaggio as an intimate friend by her own testimony in 1604. Little is known about his personal relationships, but historians seem to agree that the model of “Amor vincit omnia” was a young man called Cecco di Caravaggio. Cecco stayed with Caravaggio even after he was forced to leave Rome in 1606, and the two may have been lovers.

During his short time on earth – he died in 1610 at the age of thirty-nine – Caravaggio had become the most famous painter in Rome.

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