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June 12, 1972


JAMA. 1972;220(11):1495-1498. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200110073023

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To the Editor.—  The Caravaggio cover and story (April 3) were superb. A few amazing data about this alcoholic-sociopath might interest readers.In the world of art, Caravaggio was the first painter to dress Biblical characters in contemporary attire ("The Feast at Emmaus," in the National Art Gallery). He was a lush who was constantly in trouble and confined overnight in jail to "dry out." Many mornings, when he awoke, he was fascinated by the bright rays of sunlight that came through the tiny barred window near the ceiling. He would pass his hand in and out of the alternating black and white stripes. From this came his original work in chiaroscuro which, with time, he effectively combined with startlingly contrasting vivid reds, as in "St. Jerome Writing."He was as crooked as a corkscrew. He is said to "hold the world's record" for accepting commissions and advances, spending the