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Admirers and imitators

Artists travelled from all over Italy to admire Caravaggio’s paintings in Rome, both during his lifetime and in the decades immediately following his death in 1610. The increasing demand for paintings by Caravaggio and his followers contributed to the rise of the Caravaggesque movement: artists who produced works in a naturalistic vein, with dramatic chiaroscuro, often treating subjects that Caravaggio himself had made popular.

Very few Caravaggesque painters knew Caravaggio personally, but most had direct knowledge of his art. Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1656) probably only met him as a girl, through his association with her father Orazio, but Caravaggio’s paintings had a lasting impact on her work.

Artemisia Gentileschi, 'Susannah and the Elders', 1622 © The Burghley House Collection

Artemisia Gentileschi, 'Susannah and the Elders', 1622 © The Burghley House Collection

Many artists assimilated Caravaggio’s style, if only temporarily, and were employed by the same patrons. Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1577–1633), a great admirer and keen collector of Caravaggio’s works, also employed Guido Reni and later commissioned Giovanni Francesco Guerrieri (1589–1657) to decorate his palace. Other artists borrowed iconographical motifs from Caravaggio, and the profusion of these greatly contributed to Caravaggio’s posthumous reputation.

Rutilio Manetti, 'Victorious Earthly Love', about 1625 © The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Rutilio Manetti, 'Victorious Earthly Love', about 1625 © The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

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