Main author: Gert Jan van der Sman, Researcher at the Istituto Universitario Olandese di Storia dell’Arte de Florencia (University of Utrecht) y professor at the University of Leiden.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Milan 1571–1610 Porto Ercole) produced a highly diverse body of work that had an enormous impact on the history of seventeenth-century art. Realist observation, a compelling sense of drama and powerful chiaroscuro all contributed to the success of his art and helped to establish his fame. The Lombard’s originality was recognized as early as 1603 by the Netherlandish painter and writer Karel van Mander. In 1604 he published a brief report on the “marvelous things” Caravaggio was doing in Rome, praising his ability “to face life and to follow nature with all its various colors.” Van Mander called it an example “for our young painters to follow” – and follow it they did. Among the artists who incorporated elements of Caravaggio’s style in their own work, a large number came from the Low Countries, Germany and France. This publication puts the impact of Caravaggio’s art on Northern European painters into sharp relief: it highlights Caravaggio’s extraordinary versatility and sheds light on the rich diversity of the responses to his painted oeuvre. All artists represented here were driven by authentic painterly passion and ambition to be innovators in their own right. Between 1600 and 1630, the artistic dialogue was effervescent, and it led to brilliant results.