Cecco del Caravaggio (1571-1592) was born in Milan, from which he fled in 1596 to avoid the plague. He worked as apprentice for the Lombard painter Simone Peterzano for four years. His contract there listed that he was a pupil of Titian. He lived in Rome from 1592 to 1600, forging many great artists. The realism and dramatic intensity of many of his paintings was thought to be vulgar by many Romans, and even painters were divided by its distinct nature which opposed that of most other Roman artists. Nevertheless, between 1600 and 1606, he was considered Rome’s most famous painter.
Caravaggio was known for getting into scuffs, even in a time where this was commonplace. On May 29, 1606, “he killed, possibly unintentionally, a young man named Ranuccio Tomassoni. Previously his high-placed patrons had protected him from the consequences of his escapades, but this time they could do nothing. Caravaggio, outlawed, fled to Naples.” He went from becoming the most highly regarded painter in Rome to being the most highly regarded painter in Naples. Soon after, he left for Malta. The rest of his life was darkened by brawls and scrapes with the law.
A wonderful biography of Caravaggio’s life can be read here.