Caravaggio and Carlo Borromeo
Chapter 4. Establishing His Name: Caravaggio in Rome, 1592–1599
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ESTABLISHING HIS NAME
Caravaggio in Rome, 1592–1599
Arrival in Rome: Lombard-Inspired Genres
Despite the fact that the first document placing Caravaggio in Rome dates to 1597, it is commonly accepted that he arrived in Rome sometime in the fall of 1592, since he is last recorded in his family’s home town of Caravaggio in 1 July 1592. Reconstruction of Caravaggio’s arrival and early years in Rome can be ascertained through the artist’s biographers and through recent archival studies by Lothar Sickel.1 It is quite easy to entertain the sensational notion that the twenty-year-old Caravaggio arrived in Rome with empty pockets, and with no associations or a place to stay, save the naive ambition to succeed as a painter in the Eternal City. This, however, was not the case. Caravaggio’s paternal uncle, Ludovico Merisi, had lived in Rome from around October 1591 to May 1592. Although his uncle was no longer in the city upon Caravaggio’s arrival, it is likely that the young artist was put into contact with some of Ludovico’s associates.2 Sickel proposes, in fact, that it may have been Ludovico who helped his nephew establish lodging in the house of Monsignor Pandolfo Pucci, located in the Borgo.3
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