Italians 85% Sure They’ve Found Caravaggio’s Remains

In a brief followup to an an earlier post on the search for Caravaggio’s bones, MSNBC is reporting that the team which last year recovered remains thought to belong to the great artist has completed their analysis and announced they have a likely candidate — but they can’t be absolutely sure.  

‘There can’t be the scientific certainty because when one works on ancient DNA, it is degraded,’ Giorgio Gruppioni, an anthropologist on the team, told The Associated Press.  ‘But only in one set of bones did we find all the elements necessary for it to be Caravaggio’s — age, period in which he died, gender, height.’

Caravaggio (full-name Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571–1610), is considered to have been the last of the great Italian Renaissance artists.  His works, known especially for their dark chiaroscuro style, are credited with inspiring the Baroque period of the late 16th-18th centuries.  Others are intrigued by his troubled and tormented personal life, while some believe Caravaggio was the first truly modern painter.

Caravaggio Bumps Michelangelo from “Top of the Charts”

In a brief follow-up to a recent post, check out this neat article from the New York Times analyzing the rising popularity of the Italian Renaissance artist Caravaggio (1571-1610).  Author Michael Kimmelman attributes increased interest in Caravaggio to identification of the latter with the modern anti-hero (the great artist had a very sordid personal life) and the accessibility of his style to current tastes. 

If you’re interested in art in general, please remember we’ve got plenty resources for you at Greensboro Public Library, especially at the Hemphill Branch Library on West Vandalia, as well as at the Central Library in downtown Greensboro.

Have the Bones of Caravaggio Been Discovered?

Italian archaeologists are claiming to have discovered the remains of the last great Italian renaissance artist, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571–1610), whose influence is credited with inspiring the Baroque painting style of the late 16th-18th centuries. 

Caravaggio’s paintings are especially known for their dark, brooding shadows and the contrasts of dark and light which are known as the chiaroscuro style. 

But in addition to being an artist of legendary talent, Caravaggio apparently had a rather sordid personal life and seems constantly to have been in trouble, fighting brawls, fleeing from one place to another, and even being accused of murder.  

Some are convinced in fact that the great Caravaggio himself was murdered, though the Italian archaeological team led by Georgio Gruppioni, which claims to have found his remains, believes they have documentation — in the form of a death certificate — that he died of natural causes.

Comparison with the DNA of Caravaggio’s descendants will be employed to prove or disprove the identity of the remains, which were originally buried at San Sebastiano and later moved to a crypt in a church in Porto Ercole.  The bones were apparently in an unmarked ossuary.    

However, British art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon is skeptical that the bones are really those of the famous artist.  “In my view, there’s no way in hell they can say they have found Caravaggio’s remains,” he says. “What’s the proof? They found a headstone saying: ‘Here Lies Caravaggio’?”  And he claims the death certificate is fake.

Nonetheless, everyone seems to be in agreement that Caravaggio was a towering figure — Graham-Dixon calls him “one of the two or three greatest and most original painters ever to have lived.”

If you’d like to learn more about Caravaggio, Greensboro Public Library has a few books which may be of interest, including The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr, Caravaggo:  Painter Of Miracles by Francine Prose, M:  The Man Who Became Caravaggio by Peter Robb, and Caravaggio by Catherine Puglisi.