Caravaggio: a Passionate Life

UK 2013 (Thistle Press); USA, 1998, William Morrow (Hearst Group)
Translations, 2000, Japanese (Hakusuisha): 2003, Polish (Dolnoslaskie)
A religious artist who used prostitutes for models, a mystic with a police record, the Pope’s portrait painter and a murderer, having hidden in the Roman hills as an outlaw on the run, Caravaggio joined the Knights of Malta – to be imprisoned in a dungeon for duelling with a fellow knight. Escaping, he was hunted down in a vendetta with an unknown enemy and horribly disfigured by sword cuts in a Neapolitan brothel. Ironically, he died on a lonely Tuscan beach after receiving a pardon. Based on the latest research, written like an adventure story, the book concentrates on the man without neglecting the artist, recreating his life in Baroque Rome and as a ‘monk of war’ in Malta.

“Seward does a fine job of piercing together circumstantial evidence of the painter’s turbulent life, while skilful juxtaposition of Caravaggiofs personal narrative and art illuminates the origin of his dramatic style.”
Kirkus Review

‘a well researched biography of Caravaggio which, in his own words, “uses [the]pictures to peer into his mind.” Aimed at the general reader rather than the specialist, it certainly succeeds … In many ways his treatment is reminiscent, as he admits, of Peter Schaffer’s treatment of Mozart.’
The Art Newspaper

‘Seward’s scholarship is pointed, unpretentious, often amusing … a lively read and a rewarding one.’
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel