MICHAEL ANGELO DA CARAVAGGIO—HIS QUARRELSOME DISPOSITION.
Caravaggio possessed a very irascible and roving disposition. At the height of his popularity at Rome, he got into a quarrel with one of his own young friends, in a tennis-court, and struck him dead with a racket, having been severely wounded himself in the affray. He fled to Naples, where he executed some of his finest pictures, but he soon got weary of his residence there, and went to Malta. Here his superb picture of the Grand Master obtained for him the Cross of Malta, a rich gold chain, placed on his neck by the Grand Master’s own hands, and two slaves to attend him. All these honors did not prevent the new knight from falling back into old habits. “Il suo torbido ingegno,” says Bellori, plunged him into new difficulties; he fought and wounded a noble cavalier, was thrown into prison, from which he escaped almost by a miracle, and fled to Syracuse, where he obtained the favor of the Syracusans by painting a splendid picture of the Santa Morte, for the church of S. Lucia. In apprehension of being taken by the Knights of Malta, he soon fled to Messina, thence to Palermo, and returned to Naples, where hopes were held out to him of the Pope’s pardon. Here he got into a quarrel with some military men in a public house, was wounded, and took refuge on board a felucca, about to sail for Rome. Stopping at a small port on the way, he was arrested by a Spanish guard, by mistake, for another person; when released, he found the felucca gone, and in it all his property. Traversing the burning shore, under an almost vertical sun, he was seized with a brain fever, and continued to wander through the Pontine Marshes till he arrived at Porto Ercoli, when he expired, aged forty years.
Giacomo Amiconi, a Venetian painter, went to England, in 1729, where he was first employed by Lord Tankerville to paint the staircase of his palace in St. James’ Square. He there represented the stories of Achilles, Telemachus and Tiresias, which gained him great applause. When he was to be paid, he produced his bills of the workmen for scaffolding, materials, &c., amounting to L90, and asked no more, saying that he was content with the opportunity of showing what he could do. The peer, however, gave him L200 more. This brought him into notice, and he was much employed by the nobility to decorate their houses.