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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of John Richardson's Picasso, a commanding new biography of the Italian master's tumultuous life and mysterious death. For four hundred years Caravaggio's (1571-1610) staggering artistic achievements have thrilled viewers, yet his volatile personal trajectory - the murder of Ranuccio Tomasini, the doubt surrounding Caravaggio's sexuality, the chain of events that began with his imprisonment on Malta and ended with his premature death - has long confounded historians. In a bravura performance, Andrew Graham-Dixon delves into the original Italian sources, presenting fresh details about Caravaggio's sex life, his many crimes and public brawls, and the most convincing account yet published of the painter's tragic death at the age of thirty-eight. With illuminating readings of Caravaggio's infamous religious paintings, which often depict prostitutes and poor people, Graham-Dixon immerses readers in the world of Italy at the height of the Counter-Reformation and creates a masterful profile of the mercurial painter's life and work.

©2010 Andrew Graham-Dixon (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 08-28-13

Interesting life

It is obvious that Andrew Graham-Dixon has done a lot of research before writing this book. The book is well written and keeps one interested throughout the book. Graham-Dixon not only covers the life of Caravaggio but also provides the history of the catholic church and Italy during the life of the painter. This in-depth coverage made me feel as if I was there. Edoardo Ballerini did an excellent job with all the Italian names. Before reading this book I knew nothing about Caravaggio. Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio was born in Milan on 27 September 1571 and died 18 July 1610 in Porto Ercole. He studied in Milan then in his twenties moved to Rome. He apparently had no problems obtaining commissions but he had a violent temper and was frequently in brawls and in jail. His style of painting had a formative influence on the Baroque School of Painting. He created the style of shadows that make his pictures unique. Graham-Dixon explains each of his major paintings in depth about his technique as well as who hired him and how he worked on the painting. I liked the fact that Graham-Dixon explained the findings of other authors about Caravaggio and if there was new evidence on the subject he explained the findings. This was most evident in his discussion about Caravaggio killing a man in Rome and then his flight to Naples and eventually Malta. Of course, Caravaggio produced paintings in all the cities he visited during his flight. He thought his patron had obtained clearance from the Pope to return to Rome but Caravaggio caught a fever on his trip to Rome from Malta and died at Porto Ercole. I wanted to see some of his painting and I found the Caravaggio foundation has them available on the web. I came into this book knowing nothing but I now feel I have a good understanding of the man and the times he lived in. If you are interested in art or history I am sure you will enjoy this book.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Listen to this with his art work in front of you

Would you listen to Caravaggio again? Why?

Yes I've listen to this twice, and find myself inspired to visit an art museum both times. It's a great look at Caravaggio's life, the times he lived in, and an overall approach to looking at art pieces for both their form and function.

The writing was a little florid and hyperbolic, but reflected the nature of baroque art and the rollercoaster of Caravaggio's life. If anyone's read anything else or seen documentaries about Caravaggio, it seems almost impossible to talk about him without getting overdramatic.

Any additional comments?

I found it helpful to look up the pieces on Google as they came up in the book, or at least to look through galleries of his work afterward.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Mario
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 12-02-15

Chiaroscuro life

I listen to this audiobook looking at the Caravaggio’s paintings. The author made me penetrate into the paintings. He did an excellent job by combining the biography of the painter with a vivid interpretation of his paintings.

I also enjoyed the narration spiked with an appropriate Italian accent.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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So much to learn

A great story about a great artist in turbulent times but a facinating story of his talent a influence on such greats as Rembrandt and others

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great Portrayal of Caravaggio and His Work

This is a great story, full of art, history and the most unlikely hero. I highly recommend this book for anyone remotely interested in art!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Incredible!!

The performance by the reader was perfect. The information in this book is rich and is truly a read for the historian or any lover of Caravaggio.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Truly Sacred, truly beautiful, sadly profane...

As a devoted admirer of Caravaggio, I was drawn to this biography because of the detail and scholarly research. However, I found it to be much more than I expected. The author's deep spiritual insights and beautiful descriptions of the "Holy Works" created by Caravaggio, brought me close to tears several times. Caravaggio, was clearly a man of divided devotions and divine talent...A troubled and lonely soul.

The narrator is exceptional in both tone and feeling. If you love classical art, tragedy and The Bible. This is a book worth your time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Memi
  • Israel
  • 03-25-17

A must read for Caravaggio fans. read with the paintings in hand

The best and most thorough biography of Caravaggio I have stumbled upon. Seems to make sense in many previous assumptions about missing information. The narraration is mind blowing!!! My only concern had to do with the feeling that too often the author dealt with minute information that made the story line feel too cumbersome.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A rivetting visit to the past.

What made the experience of listening to Caravaggio the most enjoyable?

The book is extremely well written and researched. It is written with real understanding of both the artist and his phenomenal art. The whole work becomes alive by Edoardo Ballerini's sensitive and smooth narration.

What other book might you compare Caravaggio to and why?

This book stands alone.

What does Edoardo Ballerini bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He brings it to life and the whole experience becomes more thrilling and hard to put down.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes but it was difficult to do as it is 18 hours long.

Any additional comments?

I found that to search for the art work being described on Google added an extra dimension as the author points out many aspects in each work that would not be apparent to a nonexpert,

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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ART'S BAD BOYS

Caravaggio is one of art’s bad boys. Born in 1571, Caravaggio arrives in the midst of religious turmoil between European Catholic nations and the Ottoman Empire.Caravaggio comes to life in Andrew Graham-Dixon’s biography. Graham-Dixon explores the light and dark of Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio’s short life.

Art history moves on after Caravaggio, but Caravaggio marked a pivot point in the history of art. Painting became more than symbolic representation; i.e. it became a cinematic representation of the real world. The imperfection of humankind, both physically and spiritually became a part of the Bible’s story about life. Caravaggio’s art reflects on the violence of life, the imperfection of humankind, doubts of belief, and the true nature of human beings.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful