The Man Who Became Caravaggio
By Peter Robb
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805063561, 560pp.)
Publication Date: February 2000
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A bold, fresh biography of the world's first modern painter As presented with "blood and bone and sinew" (Times Literary Supplement) by Peter Robb, Caravaggio's wild and tempestuous life was a provocation to a culture in a state of siege. The of the sixteenth century was marked by the Inquisition and Counter-Reformation, a background of ideological cold war against which, despite all odds and at great cost to their creators, brilliant feats of art and science were achieved. No artist captured the dark, violent spirit of the time better than Caravaggio, variously known as Marisi, Moriggia, Merigi, and sometimes, simply M. As art critic Robert Hughes has said, "There was art before him and art after him, and they were not the same."Caravaggio threw out Renaissance dogma to paint with dazzling originality and fierce vitality, qualities that are echoed in Robb's prose. As with Caravaggio's art, M arrests and susps time to reveal what the author calls "the theater of the partly seen." Caravaggio's wild persona leaps through these pages like quicksilver; in Robb's skilled hands, he is an immensely attractive character with an astonishing connection to the glories and brutalities of life.
Australian-born Peter Robb has lived in Naples and southern Italy for the past fourteen years. His first book, Midnight in Sicily, was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a New York Public Library Book of the Year.
"M . . . has a tremous vigour, a dash and swagger it owes to Robb's urgency . . . its hero is wholly, richly alive."(Times Literary Supplement)