Charles Saatchi's Great Masterpieces: how the sinner Caravaggio brought Saint Matthew to life

Detail ofThe Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio
Detail of The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio Credit: Bridgeman

Orphaned at 11, Caravaggio joined a group of artists who lived by the motto nec spe, nec metu – without hope, without fear. By the time he was 13, he knew he wanted to devote his life to painting.

Starting as an apprentice in Milan, he later decided his career could flourish more quickly in Rome. These were hard years for Caravaggio, jumping from one job to the next to support himself – until finally he was taken on by an art dealer, and was able to sell some of his paintings.

As his fortunes changed, his work caught the eye of Cardinal Francesco del Monte, a highly influential bishop within the Vatican, who quickly took Caravaggio under his wing. He was even able to secure permanent accommodation...

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