Italy celebrates 450 years of Caravaggio

Caravaggio was born on this day in 1571.

Italy is celebrating 450 years of Michelangelo Merisi, better known as Caravaggio, whose masterful paintings continue to fascinate more than four centuries after his death.

To mark the milestone anniversary both Italy and the Vatican have issued limited edition coins dedicated to the 16th-century artist. 

The celebratory coins, for the collector market rather than general circulation, comprise a €25 rectangular Vatican coin - silver with a coloured depiction of The Deposition - and a €20 Italian gold coin.

Born in Milan on 29 September 1571, Caravaggio trained as an artist before moving in his 20s to Rome where he received a string of prestigious commissions.

His paintings combine a gritty, realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, and make dramatic use of chiaroscuro.

Caravaggio is also remembered as a wild, violent character who fled Rome after receiving a death sentence for killing a man in a dual.

The artist died in 1610 in Porte Ercole, in mysterious circumstances, aged 38.

Many of his paintings can be seen in churches, palaces and museums in Rome, see our guide.