Born in 1571, Michelangelo Merisi, better known as Caravaggio, revolutionised Italian painting during the 17th century thanks to the realism and accuracy of his painting as well as his innovative use of chiaroscuro (the contrast of light and dark). For many he represents the greatest naturalist painter of his time.

The exhibition Caravaggio in Rome. Friends and Foes at the Jacquemart-André Museum is dedicated to the painter’s time and works whilst in Rome and to the artistic world in which he developed. The exhibition focuses on the workshops where he undertook his first steps as an artist and his relationships with collectors and artists of the time, including his enemies and rivals.

Despite being imitated by others, Caravaggio was known to oppose his contemporaries during discussions, hearings, and even brawls, such as the one in 1606, in which Caravaggio killed Ranuccio Tomassoni. Sentenced to death, Caravaggio was forced into exile, and his career in Rome ended. The painter was destined to never return to the eternal city.

Ten Caravaggio masterpieces have previously been on loan to such prestigious museums as the National Gallery of Ancient Art, the Borghese Gallery, and the Capitoline Museum in Rome, as well as the Brera Art Gallery in Milan and the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, not to mention private collections. They sit alongside works of some of Caravaggio’s illustrious contemporaries, such as Cavalier d’Arpin, Annibale Carracci, Orazio Gentileschi, Giovanni Baglione and Jusepe de Ribera.

The catalogue which accompanies this exhibition follows the key stages of Caravaggio’s career in Rome, illustrates his innovative genius, demonstrates how his style influenced contemporary European painters, and reflects on the artistic effervescence that reigned in Rome during the period.