Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian baroque artist; he was born in 1571 and died at the age of 38 in 1610. Caravaggio was a unique and talented artist. At the age of 13, he worked under Simone Peterzano. Sometime after his study with Peterzano, he was exposed to the artwork done in Milan and Rome and soon adapted their artistic techniques.
When looking at his artworks, there are many features that make him stand out. Three of these features includes his individualistic use of light and darkness in paintings, his realistic representations of the bodies, and his use of live models for his paintings.
This painting of the Musicians is meant to be an allegory of music through the form of a performance. The reason it is believed to be an allegory is because Cupid is present in this piece. The boys are wearing a simple classical attire. It is believed that Caravaggio included a self-portrait of himself with the figure that is second from the right.
In this painting, Caravaggio represents a drunk Bacchus. Bacchus was the god of agriculture, wine, and fertility. Caravaggio made this as a half length portrait and a still life. I think Caravaggio does an amazing job in representing the male body. You can really see the muscles in Bacchus’s arm. Caravaggio also adds a soft, lively face, filled with redness.
Both this painting and the Musicians was commissioned by Cardinal Francesco del Monte. Bacchus was donated from Cardinal Francesco to Ferdinando I de’Medici in 1608 and was discovered in the Uffizi Gallery in 1913.
As a side story, I wanted to tell you guys about his early death. Throughout his life, Caravaggio was quick to anger. Because of this anger, he was prone to get into fights. In 1606, he accidentally killed a young man named Ranuccio Tomassoni during a fight. Caravaggio then had to flee Rome and escape to Naples. He lived well in Naples and later in Malta, but in 1608 he was imprisoned. He, once again, fled. After some time in Sicily, he returned to Naples. There, someone tried to kill him, but they were unsuccessful. In the summer of 1610, he took a boat to go visit Cardinal Scipione to give three paintings. On July 28th, a newsletter from Rome told the court of Urbino that Caravaggio was dead. Three days later, another newsletter explained that he died because of a fever. BUT his body was never found!
Caravaggio, Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, 1594