The portrait you see on the left is a portrait of Caravaggio. Michelangelo da Merisi, always known for his hometown in northern Italy, was one of the most revolutionary artists who ever lived. We would have to search through the art of the West up to the time of Picasso to find any other artist with such immediate impact. By 1650, everyone admitted that they all were "Caravagisti." that is, followers of Caravaggio. Giotto, Caravaggio, and Picasso mark revolutionary breaks with what had gone before. His greatest years of creativity are lived in Rome -- the great Rome that was exploding in the 17th century. The Rome of the Counter Reformation, the Rome of the growing international Roman Catholic Church was at its peak of creativity and energy in the first half of the Seventeenth Century. And no one symbolized better the powerful influence of Rome than did Caravaggio. A friend of Popes and Bishops, a friend of Dukes and Duchesses, he was always in trouble.
This is the best one-volume history of Italy that includes the modern part that we want. It provides you with a nice introduction to earlier periods and those of you who studied the Renaissance last year will find these chapters an easy review. You can read about the earlier periods a bit each week tip you get up to 1600. We will use the book all year.
A Concise History of Italy,
Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (January 20, 2014),
Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane,
W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (November 12, 2012),