Updated: May 9, 2021
He was constantly getting into fights. He was repeatedly arrested, and jailed for assault. He killed a man and was forced to flee from Rome. While awaiting a papal pardon, he died suddenly — in mysterious circumstances — in Tuscany, at the age of 38. Caravaggio’s life was short and full of violence. But this troubled man — who is likely to have suffered from some kind of mental illness — was also one of the greatest artists of the Baroque era. Although many disapproved of his behavior (and his unorthodox treatment of religious themes in his art), no one could deny his sublime talent. His powerful use of chiaroscuro (contrasting light and shadows) and his unconventional, theatrical depictions of Biblical scenes such as the Martyrdom of St Matthew or Judith Beheading Holofernes continue to impress and inspire today.
Boy with a Basket of Fruit
Caravaggio was born in Milan but spent much of his turbulent adult life in Rome, the city where many of his most important works are now on display. An art lover could easily make a pilgrimage to Rome for Caravaggio alone — his masterpieces can be found adorning walls in the Vatican Museums, the Borghese Gallery, Palazzo Barberini, The Musei Capitolini by the Campidoglio, and various churches in the centro storico.
Our Borghese Gallery tour includes numerous works by Caravaggio. If you want to learn more about the life and works of this extraordinary artist, you can also join our special Caravaggio tour, where you’ll explore the streets of central Rome and see paintings by Caravaggio in churches such as Sant’Agostino and San Luigi dei Francesi.