What are the characteristics of Caravaggio’s paintings?

Caravaggio or Caravaggio is the famous Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. He was born in Milan in 1571 and died in 1610. His nickname comes from his birthplace Caravaggio, a small village near the capital. He was an extraordinary artist who produced numerous works with somewhat unusual characteristics, certainly due to his rather eventful life.

The particular aspects of his painting

With his powerful and innovative works, Caravaggio revolutionised Italian painting in the 17th century. His paintings are characterised by their sometimes violent realism and naturalistic style. In addition to this, his paintings have a dramatic aspect based on the use of chiaroscuro, which tends towards the tenebrism. This may be due to his artistic training where he studied Lombard realism. This concept is based on the observation of nature in order to create a pictorial series that resembles reality as much as possible. He was also interested in how light illuminates objects. Despite this, Caravaggio's works revolve around the Baroque and Renaissance styles.

Realism at the end of the brush

Realism is currently the main paradigm for interpreting Caravaggio's art. But it is not by chance that he is known as a revolutionary artist. Most of his works reflect his impetuous temperament, his turbulent life, and the scandals that this caused. Many of his works are inspired by the people he met in his turbulent surroundings. Numerous stays in prison, deadly brawls, exiles, quarrels, taverns and slums... there is something for everyone. Even when painting religious canvases, the picture plane is always realistically executed. Other paintings also evoke diverse scenes of everyday life and life size.

The combination of light and shadow

The compositions of Caravaggio's works are certainly based on naturalism and realism. But the paintings also show figures painted in a simple, sober and rather dark environment. The ingenious use of chiaroscuro is a characteristic of Caravaggio's painting. The black backgrounds and the dark design are undoubtedly the result of the artist's unhappiness. Few colours are put to the test. The painter focuses largely on details. The variations in colour from light to dark show violent contrasts. Over time, the backgrounds of his canvases change and become progressively darker, with more abrupt deviations from the colour of the figures illuminated by a beam of light.

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