Caravaggio: Painter on the Run

360p. ebook available. Creston. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781939547293.
Gr 8 Up—This energetic, well-researched historical novel brings to life the temperamental, innovative Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. In the late 1500s, the Roman Inquisition was underway, enforcing rigid Catholic standards that identified and punished heretics. Caravaggio was among the challengers—talented, brash, and determined to succeed on his own. He used real, ordinary people as models for religious figures and painted them against dramatic backdrops of light and shadows. Despite fame, wealth, influential supporters, and immense talent, Caravaggio was a hard-drinking, womanizing, renegade street fighter. The first-person narrative takes place within a dynamic historical context based on real people and events, police records, court documents, and true accounts by his contemporaries. Intriguing descriptions of how the artist imagined, staged, and produced actual paintings reveal his originality and the competitive societal role of 17th-century artists. Caravaggio's outspoken genius, notorious anger management issues, and intense but brief romantic liaisons will fascinate teens. This compelling story humanizes Caravaggio, illuminates the political and social pressures on artists in a pivotal era, and will inspire readers to seek out the protagonist's striking artwork. Remarkably, many of Caravaggio's paintings still hang in their original church locations and can be accessed online.
VERDICT For fans of historical fiction and art history.

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