Michelangelo De Caravaggio's crimes revealed in Rome's police files

Published: Saturday, February 19, 2011, 19:30 [IST]
 

London, Feb 19 (ANI): Late Italian artist Michelangelo De Caravaggio's police record has been revealed, and they show the tumultuous life he led from the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries.

The exhibition of documents at Rome's State Archives shows Caravaggio's friendships, daily life and frequent brawls, including the one, which brought him a death sentence from Pope Paul V, the BBC reported.

They are described in handwritten police logs, legal and court parchments all bound together in heavy tomes.

The picture the documents paint is that of an irascible man who went about town carrying personal weapons - a sword and dagger, and even a pistol - without a written permit, boasting that he enjoyed the protection of the ecclesiastical authorities who commissioned some of his most famous works.

He had frequent brushes with the police, got into trouble for throwing a plate of cooked artichokes in the face of a waiter in a tavern, and made a hole in the ceiling of his rented studio, so that his huge paintings would fit inside. His landlady sued, so he and a friend pelted her window with stones.

The documents provide a completely new account of his most serious brawl in May 1606 in which he killed a certain Ranuccio Tommassoni.

Some biographers have suggested that there may have been an argument over a woman, but the text of the court report suggests the quarrel broke out over a gambling debt. Caravaggio killed Ranuccio and fled the city.

Caravaggio fled south to Malta and to Sicily where he received important new art commissions.

The death sentence from Pope Paul V, whose portrait he had just painted, was imposed in absentia for this offence.

The documents also shed light upon Caravaggio's death at Porto Erole, north of Rome in July 1610. (ANI)

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