Michelangelo Merisi is a world-famous and loved artist, perhaps one of the biggest household names. Even laymen having the faintest idea about Italian artists can recognize Michelangelo’s paintings, his style, his use of lighting and shadows and his use of realistic figures.
Caravaggio’s oeuvre reflects his tumultuous life and it has been conducive to the spread of legends and mystery surrounding his person: a lot has been said and written, but much is still unknown.
The birth records found in the Basilica of Santo Stefano in Brolo, also known as the Basilica of Santo Stefano Maggiore, Milan, confirmed that Michelangelo was born in the city of Milan, perhaps on 29 September 1571. The painter was probably named after St. Michele Arcangelo, the archangel Michael celebrated on the day of his birth.
His family, however, originally came from Caravaggio. According to some researchers, his father, Fermo Merisi, was probably a master architect employed in the construction work of the Milan Cathedral; according to others, he was a household-administrator employed by the Marquises Sforza from Caravaggio. Michelangelo’s mother, Lucia Aratori, was born into a wealthy and influential family, her father being one of the trustees of the Marquises Sforza. Marquis Francesco Sforza and one member of the noble family of Secco d’Aragona were best men at Fermo and Lucia’s wedding, held in the church of San Giovanni Battista in Caravaggio. This episode sheds light on the extent of influence that the Aratoris had.
The town of Caravaggio played a prominent role throughout Michelangelo Merisi’s life. The young artist spent his childhood in this town, where he grew up appreciating the paintings by local artists like Prata, Polidoro and Moietta and many others. The paintings not only encouraged him to become a painter but also heavily influenced his oeuvre.
Although Caravaggio has no original paintings by Michelangelo Merisi as they are disseminated in museums across the world, the town attracts tourists who want to visit the places where the artist grew up, even today.