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DNA tests in search of Caravaggio

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DNA tests in search of Caravaggio


It is one of the history of art’s coldest cases.

Who killed the Italian Michelangelo Merisi or the painter more popularly known as Caravaggio – the town of his birth?

Now, 400 years after his death, scientists believe they are close to solving the CSI-style death hunt. They have found dozens of bodies buried in a crypt and want to check the DNA with the painter’s potential heirs.

The professor in charge of the investigation, Giorgio Gruppioni, said: ‘‘Today, we have carried out DNA tests on some individuals who have the same surname as Caravaggio, that is to say Merisi, and whom we think could be genetically linked to the great painter.’‘

One possible descendant, however, does not expect any link to be life-transforming.

‘‘I would be happy to be a proven descendant but I have no great expectations that it would change my life or give me fame. Also, I think he was not even married,’‘ said Francesco Merisio.

A pioneer of Chiaroscuro, the baroque painting technique of contrasting light and dark, Caravaggio was also renowned for his wild life. Legend has it he died on his way to Rome, seeking a pardon for killing a man in a brawl.

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