The DNA profile of Caravaggio
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The DNA of an early baroque painter
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, commonly known as Caravaggio, was an Italian painter who lived and worked during the Baroque period. He was born in 1571 in Milan, Italy. He got his artist name 'Caravaggio' from the small town his family came from. His father Fermo Merisi was steward and architect to the Marchese of Caravaggio.
Caravaggio is one of the most famous exponents of Italian Baroque painting, known for its dramatic depiction of light and shadow. His work is considered revolutionary and influenced many generations of artists after him. He was known for depicting his subjects in a way that appeared as three-dimensional and realistic as possible. He achieved this by using strong light-dark contrast (chiaroscuro) in his paintings, resulting in an intense, dramatic mood.
Caravaggio was also known for his tumultuous and often violent personal lifestyle. After being convicted of a brutal murder in Rome, he was forced to flee the city and spent the rest of his life on the run. However, during this time he still managed to create some of his most famous works such as The Beheading of St. John the Baptist or Madonna of the Pilgrims.
He died in 1610 under mysterious circumstances on his way back to Rome. Over the cause of his death has been much speculated, with theories ranging from malaria to lead poisoning - a possible result of the use of lead in oil painting.
There is still some research to be done on Caravaggio's genealogical background. For example, in 2010 a team of Italian scholars led by Silvano Vincenti conducted a study to determine the identity of Caravaggio's remains. They relied on historical records to locate a possible tomb in Porto Ercole, Tuscany.
The scientists extracted genetic material from the remains and compared it to that of people living in Caravaggio, Lombardy, with the surname 'Merisi.' The haplogroup, which has specific genetic markers passed down from generation to generation, that they found in the remains was consistent with the haplogroup of current Merisi family members in Caravaggio. This suggested that the remains did indeed belong to those of Caravaggio.
In genetics, haplogroup is a term used to classify genetic genealogy based on shared DNA signatures. It can be used to determine a person's ancestry or lineage and can help establish links between individuals who share common ancestors. So in Caravaggio's case, they not only proved the identity of the dead artist, but also provided an interesting insight into the family history of Caravaggio's Merisis.
In summary, Caravaggio, a pioneer of Baroque painting, is admired for his outstanding technical ability and unique style that used light and shadow in dramatic ways. Despite his tumultuous personal lifestyle, he managed to create some of the most impressive works of Western art. Research on his genealogy, and in particular that on his haplogroup, not only sheds light on the artist's identity and origins, but also illustrates how genetic working methods can expand our knowledge of historical figures.
Caravaggio belonged in the paternal line to the haplogroup E-M96.
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