The late 16th century was an exhausted, and exhausting, era, bearing the imprint of the Mannerist and post-Mannerist schools. It saw the advent of the Counter-Reformation, bringing in its wake the premises of the Baroque era that would dominate the 17th century. This was the time when Caravaggio made his entry on the scene in Rome, where he rapidly became notorious for his inventive plastic language. He was surrounded by emulators, countless painters who would try to imitate his originality, his revolutionary style. Students of his include Caracci, Domenichino, Domenico Fetti, Luca Giordano, Gercino, Mattia Preti: all would try in vain to come near to the Caravaggesque miracle, but none would succeed. The Caravaggesque language spread beyond Italy's borders. In 1610, Caravaggio died at Porto Ercole (Spanish enclave on the Tuscan coast).
In 1598, he had painted the three compositions for
the S. Luigi des Francesi's Contarelli Chapel.
Rome hated his religious paintings (Poussin would subsquently
emphatically support those who disparaged Caravaggio's work.
But while some Romans hated his religious paintings, others
Caravaggism was born.
Caravaggism was not only Italian, Roman and Neapolitan, but European too, through the numerous young painters who studied in Rome and later spread this style throughout Europe.
The Supremacy of Caravaggism