In the first episode of the Power of Art series Simon Schama tells about the life of Caravaggio and how he changed the way we look at art. Caravaggio left his birthplace in 1593 for a journey to Rome, then the center of the cultural and spiritual world. His extraordinary personality, combined with an astonishing talent as an artist, would make him notorious in Rome. As an artist, but also as a violent, drinking brawler.
Of course, his paintings get the main focus. Caravaggio didn’t just copy the old masters. He took a different approach. He didn’t make drawings first, but painted directly on the canvas. His lighting, his use of unprofessional models; it lead to a dramatic and new style of painting.
In the end, the violent behavior of Caravaggio spelled his doom. Killing a man in a duel, Caravaggio tried to escape his death sentence by fleeing to Sicily and even becoming a knight on the island Malta. Caravaggio died of a fever during a travel to Rome.