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The Cover
December 12, 2007

The Musicians

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(22):2589. doi:10.1001/jama.298.22.2589

His talent was huge, his life brief. He painted like an angel—and brawled like a sailor. He wore a sword and wielded it as easily as a paintbrush. By the time he was 35, his paintings, mainly religious scenes for churches, were known not only in his native Lombardy, but throughout Italy; he was also wanted for murder in Rome after killing his opponent in a game. He fled, first to Naples, then to Malta, but did not interrupt his painting. The final irony came when he was returning to Rome for a pardon and died of malaria in a forsaken swamp just outside Porto Ercole, where the Spanish had imprisoned him in a case of mistaken identity. His name was Michelangelo (he was born on the feast day of the archangel) Merisi, son of the stonemason Fermo Merisi from Lombard, who lived near Milan in the town of Caravaggio. Michelangelo's patrons dispensed with his surname: they referred to him simply, as we do today, as Caravaggio (1571-1610).