Caravaggesque School/Caravaggists/Caravaggism, is a pictorial current of the 1st half of the 17th century. Appeared as a result of Caravaggio’s work at the end of the 16th century, Caravaggism is sometimes equated with a form of Roman Baroque against the classicism of the Carracci. This idea, however, is nuanced because of the many similarities that bring these two schools together. This current should not be described as a group or a school, because it did not constitute a structured movement, but at most an imitation, an influence of Italy. This intellectual evolution is halfway between the opposition to the classical rhetoric of the Academies on the one hand, and the brilliant, illusive enthusiasm of the Baroque on the other.
Characterized by the predominance of scenes with powerful contrasts of light and shade transcended by the virtuoso mastery of chiaroscuro, it is built around the style of Caravaggio and his closest followers, like Bartolomeo Manfred. The Caravaggio style to put the shadows in chiaroscuro was practiced well before his arrival on the scene but it is Caravaggio who established the final technique, darkening the shadows and piercing the subject by a blinding light. Added to this is the acute observation of the physical and psychological reality.
Thus, Caravaggism, after Caravaggio’s style, is characterized by a radical naturalism, a vivid realism that combines close physical observation with a dramatic, theatrical approach by the use of chiaroscuro.